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Knights top Winnipeg 4-1, advance to second round

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Chandler Stephenson scored twice and the Vegas Golden Knights eliminated the Winnipeg Jets from their Western Conference opening-round series with a 4-1 victory on Thursday night.

The Golden Knights became the first team to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Vegas, which entered the league and went to the Stanley Cup Final in its inaugural season in 2018, is now 42-29 in the postseason.

Mark Stone added a goal and two assists and William Karlsson also scored for the Golden Knights. Goaltender Laurent Brossoit made 30 saves. Vezina Trophy candidate Connor Hellebuyck made 21 saves for the Jets and Kyle Connor scored late in the third period to ruin Brossoit’s shutout bid.

Stephenson put Vegas on the board first just 50 seconds into the game when he took a feed from Stone and beat Hellebuyck before he could back to the right side of the crease.

Leading 1-0 after one period, the Golden Knights opened the floodgates with three second-period goals.

Stone, 42 seconds in, gathered a bouncing puck and ripped a wrist shot from the slot to double Vegas’ lead, 2-0.

Next, Karlsson finished Michael Amadio’s backhand pass between two Jets with a one-timer from the doorstep.

Stephenson grabbed his second goal of the game when he snapped a one-timer from the left circle during a power play midway through the second period.

Teams that hold a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series now hold a series record of 300-31 (.906).

ROSTER UPDATES: Nikolaj Ehlers, Karson Kuhlman and Kyle Capobianco made their 2023 Stanley Cup Playoff debuts for the Jets on Thursday night. Vegas was without Shea Theodore, Phil Kessel and Brayden McNabb, as all three sat out. Meanwhile, Vegas D Ben Hutton, 30, appeared in his first career Stanley Cup Playoff game.

CHAN, TO THE MAX: Stephenson recorded multiple points in each of Vegas’ last four games, joining former Golden Knight Max Pacioretty as the only players in franchise history to have a streak of four or more contests.

STONE COLD: After missing 39 games during the regular season, due to his second back surgery in less than a year, Stone made quite a return to the lineup. The 30-year-old registered two three-point games in the opening-round series. He previously had two games with at least three points in his playoff career. __

AP NHL Playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports