Tickle Me, Fleury: Vegas goalie tickles Jets player's ear

The Las Vegas Strip

The ceremony was five minutes long and recapped the expansion team's road to the Final Two in the West.

At the biggest moment in the Vegas Golden Knights' wonderful first season, the goaltender robbed the National Hockey League playoffs' hottest man, Winnipeg Jets' sniper Mark Scheifele, with a pair of awesome saves halfway through the third period as his team won 4-2 Wednesday to move within two victories of the Stanley Cup Final.

But that all changed Wednesday in Game 3 at T-Mobile Arena. He promised after the series-opening loss that his players would be fully engaged and much better in Game 2, which they won 3-1 on Monday. The series continues at T-Mobile Arena on Friday before a fifth game is played in Winnipeg on Sunday afternoon.

Earlier, they eliminated Minnesota and Nashville, the best team in the league during the regular season.

The Jets could not have gotten off to a worse start. The only thing that will be different is people will finally run out ways to doubt them, and even then, the Golden Knights will probably remain the same. Defensively, the Winnipeg Jets are allowing 2.6 goals per game and are killing 81.8 percent of their opponents power plays.

Jets starter Connor Hellebuyck turned away 27-of 30 shots in the loss, but his mistake in the second period cost Winnipeg momentum after Scheifele's goal.

Fleury put on a show early in the second. It was Scheifele's 13th goal of the playoffs.

After the game was tied 1-1, Vegas got two goals from its second line, which features Erik Haula between Neal and Alex Tuch. He took his hand out of his glove and tickled a helmet less Blake Wheeler's ear during a scrum around his net - the one where Dustin Byfuglien plucked one Golden Knight out on each arm like he was casually opening a door. He came back to break a 1-1 tie with his second-period goal, and he added an assist a couple of minutes later.

With 11:55 left, he deflected a shot by Tyler Myers on a breakaway.

The Omnia nightclub in Las Vegas where several Jets players saw Celine Dion make a surprise appearance during a benefit concert
Tickle Me, Fleury: Vegas goalie tickles Jets player's ear

Whatever it is, the Golden Knights do it well. Hockey is new here, but winning catches on pretty quickly.

Vegas took a 2-1 series lead and is now two wins from advancing to the Stanley Cup final.

Tuch made it 3-1 at 8:13. He is the first goalie to record four shutouts in the playoffs since 2011, when Vancouver's Roberto Luongo and Boston's Tim Thomas also had four. I don't have to tell them every day that this is an important game.

During an extravagant pregame show, a fellow dressed in armour and carrying a sword slayed an adversary waving a Jets flag and then sliced up a video projection of a giant jet displayed on the ice. The Golden Knights welcomed the family of Humboldt Broncos head coach and GM Darcy Haugan, wife Christina and children Carson and Jackson.

This season is something else entirely. One slick deke later, the home team was already up a goal. Both awards could be overshadowed by a Stanley Cup. "They were good chances [for Scheifele] and I was happy to get [saves], especially that second one". They're playing really well because they're a very good team.

It's everybody. It's huge when you have that atmosphere around your team. They can at least feel good about dominating the third period on Wednesday night-but they have still dropped the past two games, losing home-ice advantage as a result. "They are a good team and that is why they are here".

"That's an important challenge", Jets coach Paul Maurice said.

With Tampa Bay and Washington, the closest thing we've had to a tight contest was in Game 2-and even that ended in a 6-2 Capitals victory.


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