By Jim Bender, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Jack Eichel scored the go-ahead goal with 4:36 remaining and the Vegas Golden Knights remained undefeated with a 5-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.
Jonathan Marchessault, Brett Howden, Alec Martinez and Nicolas Roy, with the late empty-netter, added the others for Vegas (5-0-0). Logan Thompson made 36 saves.
“We know we’re not going to play our best every night, but a ton of credit goes to our goalie,” Eichel said. “And we found a way to score some goals down the stretch.”
“It was good,” Thompson said. “I think the team did a good job of letting me see a lot of pucks and making my life easy.”
The Golden Knights are the first reigning Stanley Cup champions to open a season with five straight wins since the 1985-86 Edmonton Oilers.
Alex Iafallo led the way for Winnipeg (1-3-0) with two goals, with Cole Perfetti scoring the other. Laurent Brossoit stopped 22-of-26 shots before 11,521 fans at Canada Life Centre.
“It’s frustrating to lose, obviously,” Iafallo said. “You want to win every game but we are just going to stay positive. I feel like we are doing a lot of good things. We need to clean up some mistakes but, at the same time, we are just going to keep close moving, climbing that mountain.”
The contest was a rematch of the teams’ first-round playoff series last season, which the Golden Knights won 4-1.
With Iafallo off for slashing, Eichel fired a shot past Brossoit from the left faceoff circle on a pass from Mark Stone.
“At the end there, it’s a tough penalty,” Iafallo said. “I probably shouldn’t have gone after the stick there, but special teams are huge early in the season. We’ve got to keep trying to get better.”
Roy then added the empty-net marker with 1:03 remaining to seal the victory.
“Good teams find a way to win and we found a way to win,” Eichel said. “Obviously, we’ll take the two points tonight.”
Winnipeg tied the score at 3-3 on the power play at 11:32 of the third period. With Ivan Barbashev off for holding, Iafallo scored his second of the game, snapping a one-timer past Thompson on a perfect pass from Mark Scheifele.
The Jets pulled to within 3-2 with four minutes left in the middle frame. Perfetti beat Thompson on a setup from Vladislav Namestnikov.
The Golden Knights took a 3-1 lead at 15:27 of the second. Martinez snapped a shot past Brossoit on a setup from William Karlsson.
Vegas made it 2-1 just 49 seconds into the period. Mark Stone stole the puck from Dylan DeMelo at the Jets blue line, then fed Howden, who scored his first goal of the season.
Marchessault knotted the score at 1-1 on the power play 17:42 into the first period. With Logan Stanley off for high sticking, Marchessault snapped a one-timer past Brossoit on a pass from Chandler Stephenson.
Iafallo opened the scoring just 1:30 into the game. The left-winger converted alone in front off a rebound from a Josh Morrissey shot.
The Knights came into town riding a four-game winning streak. They are the first Stanley Cup champions to open the season with four straight victories in 25 years … Scheifele scored a goal in each of his first three games of the season, tying a franchise record. The centre has done it twice before.
The Jets head to Edmonton to play the Oilers on Saturday.
The Golden Knights travel to Minnesota to play the Wild the same night.