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Jets Lose Scheifele Early, Lose Game to Vegas 4-2

Jets Lost High-Scoring Mark Scheifele Early in the Game to an Injury (Photo by Scott Stroh)

Jets Lose Scheifele Early, Lose Game to Vegas 4-2

The Winnipeg Jets might not have any players left by the end of this Opening Round series. Of course, they might not have another game after Thursday night’s affair in Las Vegas.

Monday night, in front of packed venues both inside and outside of Canada Life Centre, the Winnipeg Jets lost Mark Scheifele to an upper body injury and eventually lost the hockey game 4-2 to the visiting Vegas Golden Knights. With their second straight road win in Winnipeg, the Golden Knights took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven first round series and with a game in Las Vegas on Thursday night.

The Jets opened the scoring in Game 4 and looked like they had a good shot at knocking off the 2022-23 Western Conference regular season champions, but at the 5:30 mark of the first period, Jets assistant captain Mark Scheifele tried to take a shot on a power play and his left side collapsed.

It was either a shoulder or wrist injury and word came down that it probably occurred when he missed on a breakaway opportunity earlier in the period and fell hard into the boards. It was another devastating loss for a Jets team that has already lost its best D-man, Josh Morrissey, to a knee injury in Game 3, and one of its best forwards, Nikolaj Ehlers who is still trying to recover from an injury suffered on a cheap shot by Minnesota Wild goon Ryan Hartman in the second-to-last game of the regular season.

Still, the Jets made a game of it.

Wheeler scored the first goal of the game from Neiderreiter (Photo by James Carey Lauder)

Winnipeg opened the scoring on the power play right after Scheifele left the ice as Blake Wheeler drilled a wrist shot from the top of the left circle past Laurent Brossoit. Neal Pionk and Nino Neiderreiter drew the assists and after a slow start, the Jets were on the board.

However, Vegas tied it at 9:53 when Oakbank’s Brett Howden fired his own rebound past Connor Hellebuyck. The Knights out shot Winnipeg 10-8 in the opening frame and seemed to be taking over the game.

Vegas got an early break in the second period when referee Jean Hebert called a make-up penalty on Dylan DeMelo and the Knights had six shots on the power-play, three from point-blank range, and Hellebuyck stopped them all.

Shortly after the Jets killed a second Vegas power play, William Karlsson, who turned his foot and kicked it past Hellebuyck, was credited with a goal to make it 3-1. The Jets challenged, but to no avail.

That was the end of the Jets. With three of their very best players out of the lineup, they were no match for the best team in the West.

Karlsson’s goal came at 13:32 just as the penalty to Debois ended. Just 47 seconds later, at 14:19, Shea Theodore beat Hellebuyck with a big shot from just outside the right circle and the Jets season was pretty much over.

Another big save by Brossoit (Photo by James Carey Lauder)

Vegas outshot Winnipeg 11-8 in the second period (21-16 through 40 minutes). Most of the Knights’ shots (nine of them) came on the only two power plays of the period.

Then came the flukiest of flukey goals. Early in a Jets power play, Wheeler took a shot that was stopped by Brossoit, but the rebound hit Dubois’ stick and went flying into the air. Knights D-man Alex Pietrangelo tried to glove it out of harm’s way but he missed, the puck came down, deflected off Brossoit’s shoulder and went into the net. Suddenly it was 3-2  and it was a new game.

This time, however, the comeback was not to be. Despite a superb effort in the third period, Brett Howden (on the assist from Winnipegger Mark Stone) scored an empty-netter to put it away and the Jets season was all but over.

The Jets out shot Vegas 10-9 in the third. Vegas led in shots 30-26 overall. The Jets won 57 per cent of the face-offs (Adam Lowry was 80 per cent in the circle) and Winnipeg outhit Vegas 39-23.

Wheeler had the best stats line of the night. He had a goal and an assist and was minus-one with three shots, two hits, a takeaway and a 67 per cent performance in the face-off circle in 18 minutes and 20 seconds of total ice time.

All-in-all the Jets played a solid hockey game for a team that was without Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers and Josh Morrissey.

Game 5 in the series will be played Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Game time is 9 p.m. CDT on CBC and Sportsnet.

Covered his first junior hockey game for the Sarnia Observer in 1968. Covered his first Jets game for the Winnipeg Free Press in 1980. Still thinks hockey is the bees knees.


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