LAS VEGAS - After knotting its NHL Western Conference final series at 1-1 with a 3-1 victory at Winnipeg on Monday night, the Vegas Golden Knights now hold home-ice advantage for the best-of-seven series. But considering how the Jets have played on the road lately, that might not be a good thing.
Winnipeg, which was an NHL-best 32-7-2 at home during the regular season, has actually played better on the road during the playoffs, winning four of its last five away from Bell MTS Place, including a 5-1 rout of Nashville in Game 7 in the conference semifinals. The only road loss during that span was 5-4 in overtime in Game 2 against the Predators.
"We'll be ready to bounce back," Winnipeg center Paul Statsny said of heading into Wednesday night's Game 3 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. "That's playoff hockey, right? You win one and all of a sudden they get one and we lose one. You think you have momentum. We view this as a fresh start."
"It's a series," added Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba. "I don't think anybody is panicking. We've been here before."
The Jets have outscored their opponents 21-9 in their last five playoff road games, which started with a 2-0 blanking of the Minnesota Wild in Game 4 of the quarterfinals. They outscored Nashville 11-3 in their final two games at Bridgestone Arena where the Preds were 28-9-4 during the regular season.
"We like our road game, we like where it was in the Nashville series and we're going to try and bring the same effort," Trouba said.
Vegas was 29-10-2 at home during the regular season at T-Mobile Arena and is 4-1 there in the playoffs.
"I think you feed off the crowd for sure," Vegas defenseman Deryk Engelland said. "But the visiting team is coming in and trying to quiet the crowd down as much as they can. They're going to come out flying and we've got to be ready to go."
A bigger key than playing on home ice for both teams in the playoffs has been the ability to score first. Winnipeg is 8-1 when it scores the first goal while Vegas is 7-1.
Vegas center Jonathan Marchessault, who scored two goals in Monday night's victory, was asked whether he would rather have home ice or the first goal of the game if he had his choice.
"I think playing with the lead," Marchessault said. "Playing with the lead is huge. When you are able to play with the lead, I think that makes a huge difference."
Still, Marchessault says he's looking forward to playing the next two games on his home ice. Vegas, behind two goals by William Karlsson, defeated the Jets 5-2 on Nov. 10 in the only regular-season meeting between the two teams at T-Mobile Arena.
"We're definitely going to have a fun atmosphere," Marchessault said. "We'll get a lot of energy off of that."
Vegas played without third leading scorer David Perron, who had 16 goals and 50 assists in the regular season and has seven assists in the playoffs, on Monday night. Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant wasn't sure whether Perron would be ready to go on Wednesday night.
"He's day-to-day," Gallant said before his team's optional skate on Tuesday afternoon. "He's not feeling well."
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