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game recap

Golden Knights on verge of Cup Final after Game 4 win against Jets

Smith scores tiebreaking goal for third straight victory in Western Conference series

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / Director of Editorial

LAS VEGAS -- The Vegas Golden Knights are one win from the Stanley Cup Final after a 3-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final at T-Mobile Arena on Friday.


[WATCH: All Jets vs. Golden Knights highlights | Complete Jets vs. Golden Knights series coverage]


Reilly Smith scored the tiebreaking goal with 6:58 left in the third period on a breakaway after Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien flubbed a slap shot.

"I was hoping I wasn't going to eat that [Byfuglien shot], but sometimes in the third period the ice throws you some bounces," Smith said. "We were fortunate to capitalize on that opportunity.

"I was just trying to get as much ice as I could before the other defenseman closed in. I pretty much buried my head and put it on net. [Connor] Hellebuyck is a big goalie, so it's tough to score on him far side."

Video: WPG@VGK, Gm4: Marchessault feeds Karlsson for PPG

Vegas leads the best-of-7 series 3-1 with Game 5 at Winnipeg on Sunday.

"I'm happy we get to play [again] quick," Golden Knights forward Erik Haula said. "It's an early game in Winnipeg (2 p.m. local time); just get your rest and get ready.

"Obviously, it's not a lie, sometimes your mind wanders to places. But we're just trying to keep it cool. I think we do a good job in here. But we have a great opportunity right now and we just have to take advantage of it."

The New Jersey Devils are the only team to win a conference final after trailing 3-1, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers in 2000.

"This is a heartbreaker for us, but we have to move on," said Hellebuyck, who made 26 saves. "We now have everything on the line. ...

"The stars are aligning for them," he added, "but it's not going to stay that way."

Jets defenseman Tyler Myers tied it 2-2 at 5:34 of the third period with a close-range slap shot that beat Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury through the five-hole.

"I liked a lot of that game," Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler said. "We win that game nine times out of 10. Tonight was the one. Had some looks where their goalie made some extraordinary saves. You've got to sometimes take your hat off to a good player stealing a game."

Fleury made 35 saves and has allowed five goals during three straight wins. 

"The last [win] is always the toughest to get," Fleury said. "I think we've got to keep the same mindset taking it one game at a time and be ready to play that next game because they're going to be coming hard."

William Karlsson gave the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead at 2:25 of the first period, scoring off a cross-ice pass from Jonathan Marchessault on a power play.

Marchessault has 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists), tying the record for most points by a player in his team's first postseason (Jude Drouin, 1975, New York Islanders; Igor Larionov, 1994, San Jose Sharks).

Patrick Laine tied it 1-1 with a power-play goal at 9:29 of the second period.

Tomas Nosek, who was in the penalty box for Laine's goal, scored his first Stanley Cup Playoff goal on a rebound 43 seconds later, giving Vegas a 2-1 lead at 10:12. Hellebuyck mishandled a shot by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who got the loose puck and circled the net.

Vegas in Game 3 scored 12 seconds after Winnipeg tied that game, which the Golden Knights won 4-2. Vegas has scored within 1:28 of a Winnipeg goal four times in the series.

"The fact we always bounce back right away when they get [a goal] and keep the momentum on our side I think has been the key to the series," Fleury said.

Video: WPG@VGK, Gm4: Nosek provides quick response for Vegas


Goal of the game

Smith's goal at 13:02 of the third period.

Video: WPG@VGK, Gm4: Smith wires wrister in for lead


Save of the game

Fleury's save on Mark Scheifele 35 seconds into the third period.

Video: WPG@VGK, Gm4: Fleury makes two huge saves


Highlight of the game

Laine's goal at 9:29 of the second period.

Video: WPG@VGK, Gm4: Laine rips home power-play goal


They said it

"Nothing is stolen until it's over. In our minds, this series is far from over. We're going back home for the next one and we'll focus on that." -- Jets defenseman Tyler Myers when asked if Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is stealing the series


"Honestly? I honestly was like, 'Come on, please, this would be great.' I think I was almost telling him, 'I would really appreciate this!' I think I was in his head there. What an unbelievable shot, though. -- Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt on the winning goal by Reilly Smith


Need to know

Forward Nikolaj Ehlers played 16:35 with three shots on goal returning to the Winnipeg lineup; he was ill for Game 3. Forward Joel Armia was scratched. ... Michael Hutchinson was the backup goalie for the Jets, replacing Steve Mason (undisclosed). ... Forward David Perron returned to the Vegas lineup after two-game absence (illness); he replaced Tomas Tatar on the third line and played 13:51.


What's next

Game 5 of Western Conference Final at Bell MTS Place on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS)


Video: Golden Knights edge Jets to grab 3-1 series lead



Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Final Coverage

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