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game recap

Eichel, Golden Knights hand Penguins 6th straight loss

Forward has goal, 2 assists in return from injury, Hill makes 38 saves for Vegas

by Paul Delos Santos / Independent Correspondent

Recap: VGK 5, PIT 2

Eichel records 3 points in home win

Jack Eichel returned to the lineup and scored a goal and added 2 assists, leading the Golden Knights to a 5-2 victory over the Penguins

  • 04:54 •

LAS VEGAS -- Jack Eichel had a goal and two assists in his return from injury, and the Vegas Golden Knights handed the Pittsburgh Penguins their sixth straight loss with a 5-2 victory at T-Mobile Arena on Thursday.

Eichel, who missed the previous 11 games because of a lower-body injury, gave Vegas a 2-0 lead just 5:17 into the first period.

"I was just excited to get back out there. You never like watching games," Eichel said. "For not playing for a few weeks, you always have a lot of energy, but not everything is as crisp as you hope. You know 'Roysie' (Nicolas Roy) and 'Smitty' (Reilly Smith) were really good on the walls; Roysie being able to play low and on the wing made it a little easier for me. So, I thought we played well together. We created some offense. It was a good game for the whole group."

Adin Hill made 38 saves, and Phil Kessel, Mark Stone and Paul Cotter each had a goal and an assist for the Golden Knights (27-12-2), who have won their past four home games.

"It looked like tonight there was more balanced scoring for the first time in a while," Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. "That's for obvious reasons. You put Jack Eichel in the lineup, he's going to make things happen. It drops a few guys down to balance things out, then all of a sudden, you have 'Karlie' (William Karlsson) and Phil on the third line, those are threats too. And Paul's game was growing right before he got hurt (on Dec. 15). That's how it played out."

Video: PIT@VGK: Eichel increases Golden Knights' lead in 1st

Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist, and Casey DeSmith made 26 saves for the Penguins (19-13-6), who are 0-4-2 during the skid.

"I'm sure everyone involved is frustrated because our expectations are high," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. "When you don't live up to them, that's without a doubt, that's one of the emotions you deal with. But we can't allow frustration to get in the way of our ability to perform moving forward. We just have to become more determined and find ways to be a better hockey team."

Kessel gave Vegas a 1-0 lead at 1:52 of the first, firing a wrist shot after a feed from Cotter.

Eichel, who played his first game since Dec. 9, made it 2-0 with a wrist shot from the right face-off circle off the rush.

"It just starts your game; you get a little confidence," Eichel said. "Get that one out of the way and just go out there and play."

Chandler Stephenson extended the lead to 3-0 at 11:20 with a one-timer from the slot for a power-play goal.

Stone gave the Golden Knights a 4-0 lead at 19:49 of the second period, when he redirected Brayden McNabb's shot through the five-hole.

Ty Smith cut it to 4-1 at 4:04 of the third period, scoring his first goal with Pittsburgh in his third game, but Cotter made it 5-1 at 12:05.

Crosby, who was named to the 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Game earlier Thursday, scored with 1:30 remaining for the 5-2 final. It was his 20th goal of the season.

Video: PIT@VGK: Crosby adds late goal in 3rd period

Hill, who was pulled after allowing two goals on five shots in a 3-2 shootout loss at the Anaheim Ducks on Dec. 28, made 20 saves in the second period.

"It's always nice when your team jumps out to a 3-0 lead in the first period," Hill said. "But you know a team like Pittsburgh has a lot of veterans over there; they've got a good group. You know they're going to have a pushback. We withstood that."

The Golden Knights have scored at least four goals in each of their past four home games. They scored just 11 goals here in the seven games prior to that stretch, when they went 1-6-0.

"We've played better at home recently," Cassidy said. "We went through that funk where we couldn't score in this building to save our lives. … All of a sudden, we're getting some bounces. That gives you energy as well. I put that more on our guys just being excited to be back here and winning in front of our fans. I think that gives us a little bit of juice."

NOTES: Vegas goalie Logan Thompson was named to the Pacific Division team for the All-Star Game. … Crosby became the second active NHL player with 15 seasons of at least 20 goals, joining Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin (18). … Stone has 13 points in the past seven games (five goals, eight assists). … Golden Knights forward Michael Amadio's NHL career-high point streak ended at seven games.

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