Head coach Bruce Cassidy didn't go as far as to label it their best game of the season, mentioning a Nov. win against the Toronto Maple Leafs, but he was very happy with the Vegas Golden Knight's performance against the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday night which ended in a 5-2 win.
Phil Kessel had a goal and an assist against his former team, both Paul Cotter and Jack Eichel had multi-point games in their first game back from injury, and Adin Hill had a strong game with 38 saves.
Golden Knights Takeaways
Getting the Band Back Together
Paul Cotter and Jack Eichel returned to the Golden Knights lineup in dramatic fashion. Both finished the night with multi-point efforts, with Eichel scoring three points and Cotter two. Eichel missed eleven games with an injury, and Cotter eight.
"It was huge. I mean, when you lose two guys like that or your lineup, it's crucial. So I mean, they were out for a bit, but their impact back in this game was immediate right away with the first two goals they were involved in, so yeah. It's great to have them back," said goaltender Adin Hill.
Having two forwards back in the lineup allowed head coach Bruce Cassidy to shuffle his lines, and a trickle-down effect was given to the Golden Knights lineup with more scoring prowess. Eichel played on the first line alongside Reilly Smith and Nicolas Roy.
"I felt good. Yeah, I mean, for not playing for a few weeks. I think you always have a lot of energy, but not everything's always as crisp as you hope. But Roysy (Nic Roy) and Smitty (Reilly Smith) were really good on the walls…it was a little bit easier for me; I thought we played well together. We created some offense, and you know, I thought it was a good game but our whole group," said Eichel.
Third Line Improves
Out of the new lines came a reformed Golden Knights third line of Phil Kessel, Paul Cotter, and William Karlsson. All three had an extraordinary game and gave the Golden Knights a glance at the depth scoring they have been looking for.
"It's big. Obviously, a goal and an assist are a bonus. I am just trying to keep it simple, play my game, play physical, win my battles, and the rest will come on its own. Playing with those two makes it pretty easy," said Cotter.
Even with Jonathan Marchessault expected to return from injury on Saturday, Cassidy stated that the third line would likely remain intact for their matchup against the Los Angeles Kings.
"You need it. It just looked like tonight there was more balanced scoring for the first time in a while, and that's for obvious reasons with Jack Eichel into the lineup. He's going to make things happen and drops a few guys down to balance things out, and all of a sudden, you've got Karly (William Karlsson) and Kessel on your third line," said Cassidy.
Adin Hill had a monster game for the Golden Knights, stopping 38 of 40 shots in his first game since being pulled against the Anaheim Ducks.
"He battled. He was ready to go and prepared to play. I thought we got some puck luck in the second period around the net that we hadn't gotten this building earlier this year…he made saves when we weren't very sharp on the second day and manage the puck. I saw a competitive guy in there, and it looked like he was dialed in every shot," said head coach Bruce Cassidy.
Hill mentioned the fact that the Golden Knights gave him a three-goal cushion as a big part of his success.
"Well, it's always nice when your team jumps out to a 3-0 lead in the first period. But you know, a team like Pittsburgh, they have a lot of veterans over there, they've got a good group. So you know, they're gonna have a pushback, and we knew that, and we upstood it," said Hill.
R and R
The Golden Knights are victorious in game one of their current seven-game homestand. They will play the Los Angeles Kings next on Saturday at 7:00. Both Jack Eichel and Bruce Cassidy mentioned how crucial being back at home was to their Thursday win.
"People forget that we would come back off the road, and we'd have maybe a day, and you're back from the East Coast, and you're playing at home again. We were able to get a bit of a break at Christmas and go to California, so it's not bad…The schedule has allowed us to rest and practice, and we didn't have that luxury at the start it was just one or the other," said Cassidy.
"A couple of days off (is good), and we were all excited to be back home. This is such a great building to play in front of, and there's just so much energy here every night; it doesn't really take much. We have a nice homestand here, and I think it's a great opportunity for us to establish ourselves at home and continue to win points and continue to build on our lead and roll it into the second half of the year," added Eichel.