Karlsson leads Vegas past Winnipeg 5-2
LAS VEGAS (AP) — William Karlsson thinks he is playing the best hockey of his career.
Sure looks that way.
Karlsson scored twice and David Perron had a goal and an assist, helping the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-2 on Friday night.
The 24-year-old Karlsson, a Swedish forward who made his NHL debut in 2014 with Anaheim, has six goals and four assists in his last 10 games. He had no goals and two assists in his first six games of the season
“Right now I’m enjoying hockey and I need to keep it up,” said Karlsson, who credited the switch from wing to center for his sudden hot streak. “I think the chemistry from all of us, it’s been paying off.”
Reilly Smith had two assists for Vegas, giving him 200 points in his NHL career. Making his sixth start for the Golden Knights, Maxime Lagace stopped 27 shots.
“I think our guys, they all chip in and they all work hard and compete hard,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “Willie is getting better every game. I think our team is real confident, but I think individual players are getting real confident every game too. The longer we keep playing well, the more confident the guys are going to be.”
Vegas, which opened its inaugural NHL season 8-1-0, rebounded nicely in its return home after a 1-4-1 road trip.
“A lot of times you don’t feel great your first game back after a trip like that,” Gallant said. “But I thought the guys were mentally sharp from the drop of the puck and they played a complete game.”
Patrik Laine and Adam Lowry scored for Winnipeg, and Connor Hellebuyck made 16 saves in his first regulation loss of the season. He was the only goalie in the NHL who had not lost in regulation in 10 or more starts.
“That’s how hockey goes,” Hellebuyck said. “I can’t expect to go, I mean how many starts without a loss? It’s going to happen. I’m going to look to get better, I’m going to work harder tomorrow and I’m not going to let this faze me. I’m going to use this as motivation.”
Luca Sbisa put Vegas in front when his slap shot beat Hellebuyck high on the glove side at 6:41 of the first. It was Sbisa’s first goal of the season.
Perron made it 2-0 with his fifth goal at 15:08, but the Jets quickly responded, with Lowry deflecting Dmitry Kulikov’s shot from the point.
Karlsson, who played in his 199th career game, gave the Golden Knights a 3-1 lead when he poked in Deryk Engelland’s rebound from the crease at the 12:17 mark of the second.
After Laine and Vegas’ James Neal traded power-play goals, Karlsson converted a short-handed breakaway backhand that beat Hellebuyck on the glove side.
“I think our game was really good today, we were aggressive all over the ice,” Karlsson said. “We’re having a lot of fun here. Crowd’s been really good, we’re feeding off their energy and we want to get them going, as well.”
NOTES: The Jets had scored first in six straight games. They were 4-0-2 in those contests. ... Laine has scored in four consecutive games. ... Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler had a three-game points streak snapped, during which he had nine points (one goal, eight assists). He has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in his past six games. ... Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele has 11 points (six goals, five assists) in his past six games. ... Perron has recorded an assist in four consecutive games. ... Vegas’ Erik Haula and Engelland have each recorded a point in three straight games. ... Karlsson second goal of the night was his second short-handed goal of the season.
Vegas: Off until Tuesday, when it plays at Edmonton.
Winnipeg: Complete a three-game road trip Saturday at Arizona.