Eichel’s hat trick lifts Vegas over Columbus
Center Jack Eichel recorded his second hat trick of the season Sunday, March 19 in a 7-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets inside T-Mobile Arena. Eichel is the third player in franchise history to have multiple hat tricks with the Golden Knights.
“It doesn’t matter who you’re playing in this league,” defensemen Zach Whitecloud said. “Anyone can beat anyone on any given night.”
This win moves Vegas to 43-21-6 on the season with 92 points in the Pacific Division. Vegas leads the Los Angeles Kings by two points and the Edmonton Oilers by six points with 12 games left for Vegas to play in the regular season.
This is the second most goals scored in a game by the Golden Knights in franchise history. It is the second time this season and seventh time ever that Vegas has scored seven goals at T-Mobile Arena.
The club record is eight goals in a game which was scored Nov. 27, 2018 in Chicago.
The Golden Knights will hit the road for the first of three straight games on the road starting on Tuesday, Mar. 21 as they will duel with the Vancouver Canucks. Each of these next three games will take place in Canada with stops in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
Vancouver and Vegas have split the season series up to this point with each team winning on the road. This is the final meeting between these teams for the regular season.
Goaltender Jiri Patera got the start in net Sunday for the Golden Knights and with him making this start, he is now the fifth goaltender this season to make multiple starts for the franchise. Vegas is the only team in the NHL to have five or more goalies make multiple starts in a single season.
“I thought he was excellent,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We gave up too much again tonight in terms of good chances. When you’re scoring, sometimes you lose your intensity. I thought our third period was pretty good for the most part. We didn’t get too far away from it. We wanted to check well and extend the lead if possible.”
Patera finished his night with 35 saves on 37 shots faced for a final save percentage of .946 in the win for the home squad.
“He made some really big saves for us especially at the end of the first period,” right-winger Reilly Smith said. “Our game kind of slipped up a bit and every time it did, he was great. He was probably our best player tonight and it’s great to have a goalie that steps in on short notice like he did tonight and be able to be our best player.”
After going scoreless on the power play in Thursday’s game against the Flames, Vegas was quick to right the ship in the power play department when center Phil Kessel scored on the power play to give the Knights a 1-0 lead just 5:15 into the game. It was Kessel’s 12th goal of the season.
Kessel’s goal also was his 411th career goal, moving him past Hall-of-Famer Ray Bourque into sole possession of 98th all-time in career NHL goals. His goal was the lone goal from either side in the opening period. Assisting on Kessel’s goal was Smith who extended his point streak to eight straight games, making it the longest point streak of his career and putting him one game shy of tying the franchise record.
Smith also now has his sixth career 50-point season including his fourth with the Golden Knights.
It took 37 seconds of the second period for Columbus to find the scoreboard when right-winger Kirill Marchenko tied the game at one apiece.
The second period was an offensive explosion for the Golden Knights who jumped out to a four-goal lead by the end of the middle frame. Vegas got two goals from Eichel, left-winger Pavel Dorofeyev and Whitecloud. Dorofeyev’s goal came via the power play, making Vegas a perfect 2-for-2 on the power play through two periods. It is also Dorofeyev’s third goal in four games.
Vegas scored each of their four goals in the second period within a 6:22 span.
Defesemen Alex Pietrangelo picked up three assists in the period which ties the franchise record for most assists in a period. He is tied with Smith and center Chandler Stephenson for this milestone.
Pietrangelo finished the game with four assists and led the team in points for the game followed by three points for Eichel.
Whitecloud now has goals in consecutive games for only the second time in his career.
Columbus goaltender Danil Tarasov was pulled from the game with 3:03 remaining in the second period. Former Golden Knight goaltender Michael Hutchinsion came into the game in relief of Tarasov.
The third period was more of the same for the Golden Knights who got contributions from center Paul Cotter and Eichel’s third goal of the game en route to the 7-2 victory.