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Golden Knights - Jets gets physical: Reaves sends Wheeler into bench

The first period of Game 1 ended with an exchange that felt like a hockey clash of the titans, as Ryan Reaves got into a physical exchange with Dustin Byfuglien.

In an ideal world for the Vegas Golden Knights, such a battle would consume Byfuglien’s attention. After all, the red-hot roving defenseman scored the 1-0 goal very early into Game 1, helping the Winnipeg Jets storm off to a 3-0 lead. The Golden Knights cut the lead down to 3-1 as the first period ended, but that required some big saves from Marc-Andre Fleury, who’s been beyond-busy so far to start this intriguing, unlikely 2018 Western Conference Final.

Reaves’ presence in the Golden Knights lineup can be a matter of debate, but if he can get a single Jets star off his game, it might be worth it. That’s especially true considering the way this contest started, as it seems like Vegas is tasting its own medicine a bit as Winnipeg’s shown speed, skill, and clever passing to create a slew of dangerous chances.

If Reaves and other Golden Knights can buy a retaliatory penalty or two, that might be key. You could argue Jacob Trouba’s late penalty might have been an example of this thought process.

Reaves’ biggest and most memorable moment of the opening frame came when he sent Jets captain Blake Wheeler into the Golden Knights bench. Wheeler seems fine - and mad - but took quite a bit of time to make his way out of there.

Video of that entertaining moment can be seen above this post’s headline. Here it is in GIF form, as well:

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James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.