Horrific start dooms Jets in 5-2 loss in Vegas

An old cliché suggests that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

But if you start as bad as the Winnipeg Jets did Thursday night in Las Vegas, the finish is an afterthought.

Four Vegas goals in the first 15:17 put the Jets in a deep hole they could not climb out of, falling 5-2 to the Golden Knights to close out a three-game road trip.

Jack Eichel got the home team on the board just 4:23 into the game on a 3-on-1 rush that gave backup goalie David Rittich little chance.

Less than two minutes later, William Karlsson cut to the net and was left unchecked as he buried a feed from Michael Amadio to make it 2-0.

Just past the midway point, a terrible break for Rittich when a centering pass redirected off the skate of Brenden Dillon and into the net.

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With things already sliding out of reach, it went from bad to worse thanks to a total debacle in the Jets end.

During 4-on-4 action, Neal Pionk passed it back to Rittich, who tried to clear it but sent it right to the stick of Eichel who buried his second of the game on his team’s 12th shot of the period.

The game was effectively over at that point, but the Jets tried to claw their way back over the remaining 45 minutes.

Pierre-Luc Dubois got his first of the season in the second period, and when a pass went off Pionk’s skate and past Adin Hill to make it 4-2 midway through the third, Winnipeg suddenly had a pulse.

But they were unable to climb any closer, with Jonathan Marchessault sealing it with an empty-netter in the closing seconds.

Rittich finished with 27 saves in his first start as a Jet, overcoming the shaky start to give his team a chance, while Hill made 26 saves to pick up his second win of the year.

The Jets will return home to face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night. Rick Bowness is expected to be back behind the bench after recovering from COVID.

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