ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Jack Eichel had a goal and an assist for Vegas to hasten a mid-game meltdown by Minnesota, and the Golden Knights cruised past the sputtering Wild 5-1 on Thursday night.
Nicolas Roy, Alex Pietrangelo, Paul Cotter and Reilly Smith also scored against former Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who had little help in front of him and lost his cool after giving up Eichel’s goal that was the fourth of the second period for the visitors.
Kirill Kaprizov scored on a power play for the Wild against Vegas goalie Logan Thompson, who made 23 saves before a non-contact injury early in the third period left him unable to put any weight on his left leg as teammates helped him off the ice.
Everything else up to that point was going well for the Golden Knights, who came out of a nine-day break to beat Nashville 5-1 on Tuesday.
Jonathan Marchessault, who had two assists, flipped a pass to Eichel as he sped past Minnesota’s Marcus Foligno up the right wing. Eichel, who ended a nine-game goalless streak, snapped a shot over Fleury’s right shoulder for a 5-1 lead with 6:37 left before the second intermission.
Fleury immediately turned and hammered his stick against the post before flinging it in further frustration past mid-ice. That was the third goal Fleury gave up in a span of 2:26, after Kaprizov had ignited the crowd with his team-leading 29th goal.
Filip Gustavsson, who was in the net for the 4-1 loss at Dallas the night before, replaced Fleury for the third period. Fleury, who has a higher goals against average and a lower save percentage than Gustavsson, stopped 18 shots before he was pulled.
One of the goals Fleury gave up was a penalty shot after Alex Goligoski was called for slashing Smith, who sent the puck between Fleury’s pads after it glanced off the goalie’s stick.
The Wild, playing their first home game in 12 days, started a vital seven-game homestand against a bunch of winning teams. With three straight ugly losses out of their eight-day break, they’re in precarious position for the playoffs. They’re tied with Calgary for the second wild-card spot.
Kaprizov’s goal was a good sign for the special teams, but even-strength scoring has been a major problem for the Wild lately along with undisciplined defense. Jonas Brodin missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury, replaced on the second blue-line pair by Goligoski.
The Wild, who lost 3-2 loss at Arizona on Monday and 4-1 at Central Division leader Dallas on Wednesday, were booed as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
The Golden Knights have gone the opposite direction since their break, despite recently losing key forward Mark Stone to a back injury.
Thompson was replaced in net by Adin Hill. Defenseman Alec Martinez also left in the third period with an injury.
YOU GUYS WERE GOOD TRAVELERS
The Golden Knights players brought their fathers with them on the road to Nashville and Minnesota, the annual dads’ trip on which the team has a 7-0-1 record since the bonding excursion was first initiated by the 2017 expansion club. The Pacific Division-leading Golden Knights were 0-2-2 in their last four games before their break.
Golden Knights: Host Anaheim on Sunday, their first home game in 22 days.
Wild: Host New Jersey on Saturday night. They’re 5-0-2 against the Devils over the last five years.