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

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.’s Indigenous language, art and culture

North Saanich advisor says initiative supports urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

General manager Lindsey Pomper says Sidney’s Star Cinema cannot wait welcome audiences when it reopens June 18, amid an easing of public health measures. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney’s Star Cinema raises curtain for the first time after months in the darkness

Iconic theatre to reopen at half capacity for Friday night showing

A dogs in parks pilot study unanimously approved by Saanich council will evaluate how park space can best be shared between dog owners and non-owners alike. (Photo by Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Saanich to study park-sharing strategy between those with and without pets

District-wide People, Parks and Dogs study to produce recommendations by fall

Staff member Lena Laitinen gives the wall at BoulderHouse a workout during a media tour on June 16. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)
BoulderHouse raring to rock Langford

Popularity of bouldering continues to climb across Greater Victoria

The Sooke Potholes is a jewel in the community's crown. Transition Sooke hosts a town hall meeting on community growth on June 26. (Courtesy: Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke forum tackles community growth

To Grow or Not to Grow online town hall meeting set for June 26

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

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

Most Read