By Sally Fahey
James Neal scored the tie-breaking goal and assisted on the eventual game-winner as the Vegas Golden Knights dumped the visiting Winnipeg Jets, 4-2, in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.
Vegas has a 2-1 lead in the series. Game 4 is Friday in Las Vegas, where the Golden Knights can close within a game of being the first expansion team since the 1967-68 St. Louis Blues to reach the Stanley Cup final.
Neal’s fourth playoff goal came 12 seconds after Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele scored the first of his two goals at 5 minutes 28 seconds of the second period on a deflection of Blake Wheeler’s centering pass from the right corner.
On the ensuing play, Vegas’s Erik Haula took the puck from Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck behind the net and fed Neal at the goal mouth.
Neal turned passer at 8:13 of the middle period, making a perfect feed to Alex Tuch at the doorstep. Tuch flipped it past Hellebuyck for a 3-1 Vegas lead.
Winnipeg owned most of the third period but couldn’t solve Marc-Andre Fleury. The Vegas goalie made 15 of his 33 saves in the final 20 minutes, including two terrific stops on consecutive Scheifele tries from the slot.