Montreal Canadiens’ Nick Suzuki (14) scores on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) as Blake Wheeler (26) and Derek Forbort (24) defend during first-period NHL Stanley Cup playoff hockey action in Winnipeg, Wednesday, June 2, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Montreal Canadiens’ Nick Suzuki (14) scores on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) as Blake Wheeler (26) and Derek Forbort (24) defend during first-period NHL Stanley Cup playoff hockey action in Winnipeg, Wednesday, June 2, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Canadiens beat Jets 5-3 in Game 1, Montreal forward Jake Evans taken off on stretcher

NHL playoffs: Evans takes big hit from Winnipeg forward Mark Scheifele

Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Eric Staal scored early in the first period to set the stage for the Montreal Canadiens’ 5-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets Game 1 of their second-round Stanley Cup playoff series on Wednesday.

Montreal also got a goals from Nick Suzuki, Brendan Gallagher and Jake Evans. Joel Edmundson and Jeff Petry each added a pair of assists. Carey Price made 27 saves.

The victory was marred when Evans had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher after he scored an empty-net goal with 57 seconds remaining. He was crushed by Jets centre Mark Scheifele as he was going around the net to score and laid on the ice. Scheifele was given a major for charging and a game misconduct.

Adam Lowry, Derek Forbort and Kyle Connor, with 1:42 left in the third, scored for Winnipeg. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 28 shots.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series goes Friday in Winnipeg.

Three of Montreal’s goals were scored in the first period, beginning with Kotkaniemi at 3:30 and Staal at 5:10.

The players had more than canned crowd noise to hear inside Bell MTS Place for the first time this season.

The Manitoba government is allowing 500 fully vaccinated health-care workers to attend this week’s two playoff games. More than 6,000 workers entered their names in a lottery to win a ticket.

READ MORE: 550 health-care workers invited to attend Game 7 between Maple Leafs and Canadiens

“Utter shock,” advanced care paramedic Mike McMillan said of getting one of the coveted ducts. “It was pretty breathtaking. It’s a beautiful gesture for the past 16 months.”

Manitoba is under code red restrictions that forbid public gatherings, but the health orders were changed for the games. Immediate family of Jets’ players, coaches and other staff could also watch the game inside the rink.

“It just felt like I could just go back to a little bit of normalcy,” said Terri Jeanson, a laboratory technologist in clinical research. “I know there’s some people that are upset about it, but it definitely makes it worth what we do.”

The Canadiens were the first NHL team in Canada to have a crowd this year, allowing 2,500 fans to attend Game 6 against the Toronto Maple Leafs last Saturday after Quebec loosened restrictions.

The Leafs followed up by covering the cost for 550 fully vaccinated health-care workers to attend Game 7 against the Canadiens on Monday after being given the green light by Ontario.

The Winnipeg fans, who were given white shirts and hand towels, didn’t have a chance to wave the towels in joy early in the first period.

Kotkaniemi redirected a point shot by Petry for his fourth goal of the playoffs. Staal quickly made it 2-0 with his first goal.

Winnipeg lost a player before and during the game.

Veteran Winnipeg centre Paul Statsny (undisclosed) didn’t play. Defenceman Dylan DeMelo left the game early in the first and didn’t return because of a lower-body injury.

Fans finally got a chance to jump out of their spaced-apart seats when Lowry scored shorthanded after defenceman Erik Gustafsson turned over the puck near the blue line. Lowry raced toward the net and slipped a backhand shot under Price’s pad at 11:52.

Suzuki reinstated the two-goal lead at 17:14 during a 2-on-1 rush with Edmundson.

Winnipeg outshot the visitors 11-9 in the scoreless second period, and 22-21 up to that point.

Forbort closed the gap to 3-2 at 9:22 of the third, but Gallagher potted a rebound after a Shea Weber breakaway on the power play at 11:04.

Before the game, hockey analysts wondered if the Jets would have to shake off some rust.

It was Winnipeg’s first game since May 24, when it swept the Edmonton Oilers in the North Division first round. Montreal erased a 3-1 series deficit and eliminated the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.

— Judy Owen, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

hockeyMontrealNHLWinnipeg

Just Posted

Grads at Riverside Park in Vanderhoof, B.C. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Vanderhoof celebrates 2021 graduates

NVSS grads got together at Riverside Park on Friday, June 11 in… Continue reading

People had a chance to interact with different animals at the petting zoo, participate in mutton busting, and buy everything local during the Fall Fair held in 2019. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
55th Fall Fair in Vanderhoof cancelled

Alternative events eyed once again

Singing and drumming was heard in downtown Vanderhoof on Monday, June 14. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Photos: Honour Walk held in Vanderhoof

An honour walk was held Monday June 14 in Vanderhoof, remembering the… Continue reading

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

For more than a year, Rene Doyharcabal and a small group of neighbours in Langley’s Brookswood neighbourhood have been going out every evening to show support for first responders by honking horns and banging pots and drums. Now, a neighbour has filed a noise complaint. (Langley Advance Times file)
Noise complaint filed against nightly show of support for health care workers in B.C. city

Langley Township contacted group to advise of complaint, but no immediate action is expected

A nurse prepares a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Yukon Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Thomas
Vancouver couple pleads guilty to breaking Yukon COVID rules, travelling for vaccine

Chief Judge Michael Cozens agreed with a joint sentencing submission,

An inmate in solitary confinement given lunch on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. THE CANADIAN/Lars Hagberg
22-hour cap on solitary confinement for youth in custody still too long: B.C. lawyer

Jennifer Metcalfe was horrified to hear a youth had spent a total of 78 straight days in isolation

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

Ocean debris is shown on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C. on April, 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Most Read