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Knights get revenge on Penguins, split season series

The Vegas Golden Knights avenged their Dec. 1 one-goal loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday, Jan. 5 as they walked away with a 5-2 win over Pittsburgh.

The season series between these two teams will finish split 1-1 with these being the only two meetings of the year.

“I think [Pittsburgh] got desperate in the second and put us on our heels,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Some of that was self-inflicted and some of that was because they’re a very good hockey team. They have Stanley Cup Champions over there and it hasn’t gone their way recently so we expected that push.”

With the win, Vegas grabbed their third straight win and have run their record to 27-12-2 as we hit the halfway point of the season. This mark is good for 56 points in the Pacific Division, putting them on pace to grab 112 points by season’s end.

Vegas continues their seven-game homestand on Saturday, Jan. 7 as they welcome in the Los Angeles Kings in a battle of the top two teams in the Pacific Division. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.

Center Jack Eichel made his return to the Vegas starting lineup after missing the last 12 games with an injury that had him placed on IR during that 12-game stretch.

“I was just excited to get back out there,” he said. “You never like watching the games. I thought we played a really good game tonight against a good team. I thought we played well.”

Eichel wasted no time getting back into his groove as he finished the night with three points (one goal, two assists) to lead the team in points for the game.

“I felt good,” Eichel said. “For not playing for a few weeks, you always have a lot of energy I think but not everything is as crisp as you would hope.”

While we are on the topic of Golden Knights making their return to the lineup, center Paul Cotter also returned from injury after missing the past eight games.

Cotter joined Eichel in the multi-point club tonight as he finished his game with two points (one goal, one assist).

One thing that has increased over the past four home games for the Golden Knights is how much they are scoring. At one point in the season, Vegas was averaging less than two and a half goals at home per game. Over the last four home games however, the Knights have scored five or more goals in each one of those games.

The Knights made sure to set the tone early in this one when Eichel, fellow centers Phil Kessel and Chandler Stephensonn all found the back of the net less than 12 minutes into the game to take a 3-0 lead into the middle frame.

That middle frame has proven to be better as of late and this game was no different. Vegas won the second period 1-0 with the lone goal coming off the stick of captain Mark Stone with 11 seconds to go in the period. Stone’s point streak is now up to seven games, giving him 13 points during the streak (five goals, eight assists).

Goalie Adin Hill held the Penguins scoreless for the first 44:04 of the game until defenseman Ty Smith scored his first goal of the season to snap the scoreless drought for Pittsburgh. Hill finished the night with 38 saves on 40 shots faced for a final save percentage of .950.

“It’s always nice when your team jumps out to a 3-0 lead in the first period,” Hill said. “With a team like Pittsburgh that has a lot of veterans and a good group, you know they’re going to have a push back. We knew that and we withstood it.”

The Vegas power play unit found the back of the net on their lone opportunity Thursday night after being held scoreless the previous three games. The Knights were 0-for-7 on the power play during that stretch.

Stephenson was responsible for the power play goal Thursday night as he got assists from Stone and Eichel.

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