They have powered the Knights' attack since October and through two games of the Conference final, despite all the hype about the Jets' firepower, have been easily the best line in the series.
Blake Wheeler liked 57 minutes of Monday's game between Winnipeg and Vegas. "We showed the hockey world that we own the right to be here". "We just couldn't get any momentum going". The visitors returned to Sin City with a 3-1 victory and the best-of-seven Western Conference final all square at 1-1.
It can be said that the Vegas Golden Knights didn't do enough and did too much at the trade deadline. The Capitals centre has eight goals and 19 points in 14 games, including an overtime victor, and he has not slowed down with Nicklaus Backstrom injured and the focus of the best checkers now squarely on him and the line he makes tick ...
When his team lost 4-2 Saturday in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final, Marchessault promised: "Next game, no excuses".
Coach Gerard Gallant wasn't fond of the use of the term "must win" after the first loss, but Marchessault simply can't help himself. "We didn't go after it". After a win or lose, the next day, we all know it's a new day. Mark Scheifele had a great chance in the opening minute as the puck got past Marc-Andre Fleury, but didn't cross the line. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 25 shots for the Jets.
"This locker room is really special", Tatar said. "It's just a matter of getting back on it next game".
Tomas Tatar put Vegas ahead with 6:37 left in the first period, and Jonathan Marchessault added another four minutes later.
The Jets-Knights matchup is a fairy tale matchup, with Vegas formed only a year ago, its roster assembled from castoffs by other clubs in an expansion draft plus off-season moves by general manager George McPhee.
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The Jets got some momentum off a penalty kill following the intermission, but couldn't solve Fleury on any of their eight shots in a second that also saw Andrew Copp hit the post.
But Marchessault scored his second of the night and sixth of the playoffs just 1:28 later when he took a nice pass from Smith and beat Hellebuyck with a backhand to wrestle away home-ice advantage and send the series to Vegas knotted at one.
A particularly feisty Marchessault stared through the bright lights and bouquet of microphones in the crowded locker room, told reporters the next game was a "must win" and that "we are going to show what kind of team we are". "I tried to do that".
Kyle Connor answered for the Jets with 12:43 remaining in the third period, the NHL's top rookie goal scorer with 31 connecting just inside the near post to the right of Vegas netminder Marc-Andre Fleury, the U.S. left winger's third playoff goal lifting Winnipeg within 2-1.
Notes: Game 6, if necessary, will be May 22 in Vegas, while a potential Game 7 would go May 24 in Winnipeg.
At one point Monday - whether it was when Schmidt drew. Veteran forwards David Perron and Oscar Lindberg were both listed as scratches after playing in Game 1.
They acquired a tough fourth liner in Ryan Reaves, a minor league defenceman named Philip Holm and a former 29-goal scorer in Tomas Tatar.