Golden Knights pull within four points of second-place Kings after defeating Los Angeles 5-1

The Knights have won back-to-back games after dropping five straight.

The Vegas Golden Knights scored five goals for the second game in a row and pulled off a significant four-point victory when they defeated the Los Angeles Kings 5-1 Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.

It was a must-win game for a Knights team that had won just one of its previous six. Vegas was coming off a 5-3 win against Florida, but the stakes were particularly high against the second-place Kings.

Vegas rose to the occasion.

Though he was not expected to play, Jack Eichel was in the lineup for the Knights and was effective in 15:53 of ice time.

Logan Thompson got the nod once again, deservedly so, and delivered another strong performance.

He was especially clutch on a few penalty kills in the first period, keeping the game scoreless and allowing Vegas to take a 1-0 lead at the end of the opening frame.

That goal came courtesy of the red-hot Evgenii Dadonov.

It was Dadonov’s third goal in the last two games, as he’s been one of Vegas’ best players leading up to the deadline.

Ben Hutton tallied the only assist on the play in his return to the lineup, but it was Brett Howden who set up the opportunity.

Howden tied up defenseman Austin Strand in front of the net, creating time and space for Dadonov to score on the wraparound.

Dadonov and Thompson helped the Knights carry a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, something the Knights have struggled to accomplish in recent games.

The Knights started the second period with 1:30 of carryover power-play time, but they needed just 39 seconds.

Chandler Stephenson scored his career-best 15th of the season off a gorgeous feed from Eichel.

It was a great passing play all-around, as Jonathan Marchessault and Eichel completed a double give-and-go to set it up.

The Kings started to swarm and ultimately overwhelmed the Knights with extended zone time, resulting in Phillip Danault’s 19th of the season at 11:31 of the middle frame. Danault came out from behind the net and beat Thompson on the backhand to cut the Vegas lead to one.

But it was the only goal Thompson allowed en route to his third career win.

However, the Kings continued to pile on the pressure, hemming the Knights in their own end. Eventually, Derrick Pouliot was called for holding the stick with 5:07 remaining in the period.

But it was the Golden Knights who cashed in, as Mattias Janmark scored shorthanded to put Vegas up 3-1.

It was Janmark’s second breakaway of the game; early in the first period, his previous attempt was thwarted by a strong glove save by Cal Petersen. This time, he fanned on the shot but got enough on it to beat Petersen five-hole.

The goal broke a 16-game goalless drought.

Though the Knights had a tough stretch in the second, they came out of it with a 3-1 lead thanks to two special-teams tallies.

The third period was Thompson’s time to shine.

At one point, the Kings were outshooting the Knights 17-1, but Thompson shut everything down.

Alex Pietrangelo scored an empty-net goal to make it 4-1 with 2:28 remaining in the third.

The Knights added one more for good measure, as Keegan Kolesar and Michael Amadio took advantage of a 2-on-0. Amadio’s revenge goal was his seventh marker of the season and came with 72 seconds remaining in the game for the 5-1 victory.

Thompson finished the game with 38 saves on 39 shots, and he played a key role in helping the penalty kill go 3-for-3. Los Angeles outshot the Knights 19-4 in the third period, and while Vegas had a two-goal lead, it was Thompson who secured the win.

It was a critical win for a Golden Knights team on the brink of facing serious playoff implications. The Golden Knights may have earned two points in the standings, but considering the opponent, it was a four-point victory for Vegas.

That four-point swing leaves Vegas in the second wildcard seed, but now the Knights are within four points of the second-place Kings.

It wouldn’t be a Golden Knights game without an injury; this time, it was Dylan Coghlan who  crawled to the bench after blocking a shot. He was in considerable pain but eventually returned to the game.

Also, while Eichel had a noticeable influence on the outcome of the game (and collected his 11th point in 16 games with the Knights), it was clear he was nursing an injury. He didn’t take a faceoff and had just one shot in the game. He wasn’t expected to play at all, but as Pete DeBoer said after the win, he “gutted it out.”

Following the game, the Golden Knights reassigned forward Jake Leschyshyn and defenseman Daniil Miromanov to the AHL Henderson Silver Knights.

The Knights next play Monday when they take on the Minnesota Wild in the first half of a back-to-back.

Thompson’s play in recent games could make things interesting for the Knights leading up to Monday’s trade deadline.