The Vegas Golden Knights are one win away from reaching the first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history. The Knights won their third straight game of the series with a 3-2 win Friday night in Game 4. Getting a fourth consecutive win will be a very tough task to accomplish on the road in Winnipeg, especially as the Jets fight for their playoff lives. That being said, Vegas will be eager to close out the series as soon as possible. Vegas is 2-0 against teams facing elimination so far in the playoffs.
Though there are several keys to this game, as explored in our Game 5 preview, scoring the first goal seems to be a significant factor in the outcome of these contests. The Jets are 1-6 in the postseason when giving up the first goal, and the Knights are 9-1 when they’re the first to light the lamp. The first goal has decided the winner of every game in this series, and Winnipeg’s 1-6 record when giving up the first goal is the worst among all 16 playoff teams.
Vegas will be looking for a strong team game, but Brayden McNabb and Nate Schmidt will be key in shutting down Winnipeg’s best offensive threat in Mark Scheifele, especially without last change. Whatever the defensemen can’t handle will be left to Marc-Andre Fleury, who continues to be sensational. The Knights need another big performance out of the Flower.
It’s unlikely Gallant will make any changes to the lineup since David Perron’s return in Game 4, especially considering the fourth line scored its first goal of the postseason. That means Tomas Tatar likely will be the odd man out once again, along with the other healthy scratches in Oscar Lindberg, Brad Hunt and Jon Merrill.
UPDATE: Paul Maurice has made some significant changes to the Jets lineup after three straight losses. Jack Roslovic, who recorded an assist in Game 4, will remain in the lineup, but Joel Armia will return, replacing forward Andrew Copp. Both Toby Enstrom and Ben Chiarot will be scratched on the back end, with Dmitry Kulikov and Joe Morrow drawing into the lineup.
Here are the projected lines for both teams:
Golden Knights lineup
Jonathan Marchessault — William Karlsson — Reilly Smith
Alex Tuch — Erik Haula — James Neal
Ryan Carpenter — Cody Eakin — David Perron
Tomas Nosek — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb — Nate Schmidt
Shea Theodore — Deryk Engelland
Luca Sbisa — Colin Miller
Kyle Connor — Mark Scheifele — Blake Wheeler
Nikolaj Ehlers — Paul Stastny — Patrik Laine
Mathieu Perreault — Bryan Little — Jack Roslovic
Joel Armia — Adam Lowry — Brandon Tanev
Josh Morrissey — Jacob Trouba
Joe Morrow — Dustin Byfuglien
Dmitry Kulikov — Tyler Myers
Let’s discuss Game 5!