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Brutal hit on Jake Evans mutes Canadiens' Game 1 win over Winnipeg

Jake Evans was taken off the ice on a stretcher with 57 seconds left after being crushed by Jets center Mark Scheifele on an empty-net goal.
Credit: AP
Montreal Canadiens' Jake Evans is taken off the ice on a stretcher after getting hit by Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele during the third period of Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series Wednesday, June 2, 2021, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Eric Staal scored early goals and Montreal beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-3 on Wednesday night in Game 1 of the second-round series, a victory tempered by a scary late-game hit on Canadiens center Jake Evans.

Evans was taken off the ice on a stretcher with 57 seconds left after being crushed by Jets center Mark Scheifele on an empty-net goal. Evans chased down the puck behind the net and was hit high as he tightly circled back around the goal cage to score.

Nick Suzuki, Brendan Gallagher and Jake Evans also scored for Montreal, Joel Edmundson and Jeff Petry each had two assists and Carey Price made 27 saves.

Adam Lowry, Derek Forbort and Kyle Connor scored for Winnipeg, and Connor Hellebuyck stopped 28 shots.

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

Fans were allowed inside Bell MTS Place for the first time this season. The Manitoba government allowed 500 fully vaccinated health-care workers to attend.

It was Winnipeg’s first game since May 24, when it swept the Edmonton Oilers. Montreal overcame a 3-1 series deficit and eliminated the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night in Game 7.