Golden Knights ride four-goal first period to 5-2 victory against Jets

Jack Eichel scored twice, and Adin Hill made 26 saves.

Following a disappointing 3-2 loss to Calgary, the Vegas Golden Knights (4-1-0) got back in the win column after handing the Winnipeg Jets (2-2-0) a 5-2 loss Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena.

Jack Eichel scored twice, and Adin Hill made 26 saves on 28 shots for a .929 save percentage in his second start with Vegas.

Vegas snapped a five-game losing streak against the Jets going back to March of 2019, avoiding losing six straight to a team for the first time in franchise history.

A hot start proved to be the difference, as the Golden Knights exploded for four goals in the opening frame; it was the 22nd time in franchise history that Vegas scored four in a single period.

Vegas jumped out to an early lead on a 3-on-1, as Reilly Smith chased down the puck and delivered it to Eichel, who potted his second goal of the season and first since the season opener. The tally came just 4:23 into the contest.

Less than two minutes later, William Karlsson doubled Vegas’ lead with his second of the year off a feed from Michael Amadio in his return to the lineup.

Chandler Stephenson lit the lamp for the first time in 2022-23 to make it 3-0 just over 10 minutes into the opening frame. He wasn’t aiming for the net, but his centering feed hit Brenden Dillon’s skate and ended up in the back of the net.

Winnipeg’s struggles continued when goaltender David Rittich — who entered the game with a 2-5-0 all-time record against Vegas — committed an egregious turnover, putting the puck right on Eichel’s stick. Eichel netted his second of the game with a short-side snipe to make it 4-0 at 15:17 of the first.

The Golden Knights weren’t as effective in the final 40 minutes of the game, however. That being said, Vegas took zero penalties in the second and third periods, which was a drastic improvement from Tuesday’s second-period fiasco.

Though the Jets were the better team for much of the second and, at one point, held Vegas without a shot for seven minutes, Winnipeg came away with just one goal to show for it.

Pierre-Luc DuBois beat Hill five-hole off a rebound at 7:23 of the frame.

It’s one Hill might like to have back, but he shut down the other eight shots he faced to maintain Vegas’ three-goal lead going into the third.

The Golden Knights got off to a better start in the final frame but failed to capitalize on a series of extended shifts in the offensive zone. However, Vegas grew complacent, going more than six minutes without a shot and sitting back in the defensive end.

This allowed the Jets to make it a two-goal game at 10:34 of the third when the red-hot Neal Pionk scored on a deflection.

Both goalies made big stops following the goal, with Hill thwarting a threatening Mark Scheifele chance from in tight. Though Winnipeg pulled Rittich to set up a 6-on-5 with 3:55 remaining, Vegas gave up just one shot in that span, blocking three additional attempts.

Eichel went for the hat trick but missed the empty net. Jonathan Marchessault later looked over his shoulder for Eichel but was forced to seal the win, making it 5-2 with 22 seconds remaining. It was Marchessault’s team-leading fourth goal of the season.

He, Eichel, Karlsson and Alex Pietrangelo all had multi-point efforts to kick off Vegas’ three-game homestand.

Though it was an important bounce-back win to preserve Vegas’ early momentum, it was not a consistent 60-minute effort by the Golden Knights.

The cushion provided by the first-period outburst proved to be enough, but it was the second game in a row in which Vegas faded down the stretch.

The Golden Knights won’t be able to get away with that when they take on the defending Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.