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Take that, Buffalo! Eichel Nets Hat Trick, Golden Knights Beat Sabres



Jack Eichel, Vegas Golden Knights, Buffalo Sabres return (Photo- Vegas Golden Knights via Twitter)
Jack Eichel, Vegas Golden Knights, Buffalo Sabres return (Photo- Vegas Golden Knights via Twitter)

It will be a game Jack Eichel will never forget. Amidst heavy booing, the former Buffalo Sabre had an assist and a third-period hat-trick for a four-point effort in his second return to Buffalo. Eichel and the Vegas Golden Knights (13-2-0, 26 points) beat the Buffalo Sabres (7-7-0, 14 points) 7-4 Thursday at Key Bank Center.

The wins extended the Golden Knight’s winning streak to nine and gave them a perfect five-game road trip for the first time in franchise history. The VGK are one win away from tying their all-time winning streak of ten games, set in the 2020-21 season.

Paul Cotter made his first appearance for the Golden Knights since Oct. 18 and replaced Michael Amadio on the third line. Logan Thompson got his second straight start and stopped 31 of 35 shots.

The fourth line of Keegan Kolesar, Will Carrier, and Nicolas Roy set the tone early for the Golden Knights. They once again hemmed in the opposition in their own defensive zone for an extended period of time. This had the Sabres scrambling, and Peyton Krebs took a hooking penalty.

After the Golden Knights had over a minute of sustained pressure with the extra attacker on, they scored on the ensuing powerplay. It was Chandler Stephenson scoring on a rebound for his sixth goal of the season and the league-leading 20th first-period goal for the Golden Knights.

The Sabres came back the other way with a lot of fast and quick shots from guys like Vinnie Hinostroza and Tage Thompson. Logan Thompson was required to stand tall, quite literally, and make some saves.

With the boo birds on him, Eichel had two breakaways in the early stages of the game. He was stopped both times, but that wouldn’t matter later on in the game.

The Sabres got their first powerplay attempt of the game and cashed in on it. Mark Stone went off for interference, and Tage Thompson buried a cross-ice pass. This marks eight straight games in which the Sabres’ powerplay has scored a goal.

But just 27 seconds later, the Golden Knights seemingly tied things up with Nicolas Hague scoring. His shot hit the stick of Dylan Cozens and trickled in. But before the play developed, it was determined that Roy did not have full possession of the puck and that he put himself offside.

The Sabres challenged the play, and the goal was taken off the board to re-tie things up at one.

In the second, the Golden Knights re-established their 2-1 lead with Phil Kessel scoring. Owen Power lost his stick which led to a two-on-one with Roy and Kessel.

The Sabres had their own chances, with Tage Thompson being the driving force of offense. They got their red-hot powerplay back on the ice with Stone going back to the box again. Casey Mittelstadt scored with a beautiful set of dekes up close on Logan Thompson.

Before the period came to a close, the Golden Knights had one goal left in them. Eichel was stopped on two breakaways prior, but on his first breakaway chance, Cotter was not.

Shea Theodore made a great defensive play to turn things around. Roy fed Cotter for the breakaway, and he scored a beauty goal for his second point of the night in his return game.

It was a goal-fest in the third period, with five goals being scored in total. Eichel had three of them. But first, he tallied an assist off a faceoff win, which then went to Alex Pietrangelo. With a simple point shot, Pietrangelo scored his first goal of the season.

The dominance from Eichel continued in the third period. He scored his first goal with a wide-open cage as Comrie gave up a juicy rebound off a Pietrangelo shot. This marked his first goal ever against the Sabres. He had a little fun with the crowd in his goal celebration.

But the Sabres, new franchise center, Tage Thompson, wouldn’t let the Golden Knights escape with an easy victory. He scored his second goal of the night with a power move to the net and a roofer shot.

Eichel wasn’t done, though, as he and the Golden Knight’s first line capitalized on a three-on-two. Stephenson centered a pass to Eichel, who went five-hole on Comrie for his second of the night.

The rhythm of an Eichel point, Sabres goal, Eichel point, would continue as Rasmus Asplund scored a shorthanded goal. But Eichel and the Golden Knight’s closed out the game with a long-range empty net goal for Eichel’s third career hat-trick at KeyBank Center. It is his first career hat trick with the VGK.

VHN’s Player of the Game: Jack Eichel

Easiest player of the game of the season.

Up Next: The Golden Knights have completed their first major road trip of the season with ten of ten available points. They will be home for their next three games, the first of which is slated for Saturday night against the St. Louis Blues at 7 p.m.