Eichel's offense leads Vegas to victory over Sabres

The former Sabres captain scores a hat-trick in a 7-4 win at KeyBank Center
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Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) - Jack Eichel was able to record a hat-trick and an assist against his former team to help lead the Vegas Golden Knights to a 7-4 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night at KeyBank Center.

The Golden Knights took advantage of the game's first power play early in the opening period. Chandler Stephenson was in the right spot to slam home a rebound chance at the side of the net for his sixth goal of the season. Jonathan Marchessault and Alex Pietrangelo assisted on the goal that gave Vegas a 1-0 lead.

Eichel had a chance to double the lead midway through the first period, but Eric Comrie stopped the former Sabres captain on a breakaway to keep Buffalo within a goal.

The Sabres used a power play goal of their own to even the score at 1-1 late in the first period. Kyle Okposo made a pass underneath a Vegas defender to Tage Thompson, and he buried his ninth goal of the season with the shot. Mark Stone was in the penalty box for interference when the goal was scored.

Vegas thought they had taken their second lead of the game on a Nicolas Hague shot that found the back of the net. However, Sabres head coach Don Granato challenged the goal for an offside, and the linesmen determined the Golden Knights were in ahead of the puck to negate the score, keeping the game tied.

Buffalo recorded 11 shots on goal in the opening period, a majority coming after the first 10 minutes of the period. The Golden Knights were credited with 15 shots in the period.

Phil Kessel converted on a 2-on-1 chance early in the second period to give Vegas a 2-1 lead. His second goal of the season was setup by Nicolas Roy, while Paul Cotter was also credited with an assist.

A power play goal, once again, helped the Sabres even the score with Vegas. Casey Mittelstadt was able to beat goalie Logan Thompson with a backhand deke at the top of the crease for his third goal of the year. Dylan Cozens and JJ Peterka assisted on the goal that tied the game at 2-2.

Once again, Stone was in the penalty box for the Golden Knights, this time for tripping.

However, three minutes later, Alex Tuch turned the puck over in the neutral zone and the visitors converted. Paul Cotter used a partial breakaway to score his second goal of the season and make it 3-2, Golden Knights, with less than three minutes remaining in the middle stanza.

Vegas' lead was doubled less than four minutes into the third period with Alex Pietrangelo scoring his first goal of the season. Eichel was credited with the lone assist on the goal that deflected off of Jacob Bryson before going into the net.

Eichel's second point of the night came less than three minutes later when he scored to increase the Golden Knights' lead to 5-2. The goal was the former second overall pick's seventh of the season, and the first goal against his former team.

Thompson was able to score his second goal of the night by lifting his shot underneath the cross bar. The forward's 10th goal of the season brought Buffalo back within two goals, 5-3, midway through the third period. Jeff Skinner and Vinnie Hinostroza were credited with the assists.

After Eichel scored his second goal of the night to extend Vegas' lead to 6-3, the Sabres were able to get back to within two goals. Rasmus Asplund scored a shorthanded goal with less than four minutes left in regulation. Asplund's second goal of the season made the score 6-4.

Eichel was able to complete his third-career hat-trick with just seconds remaining on the clock, as he shot a puck from his own end of the ice into the empty-net vacated by Comrie.

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GAME RECAP

Scoring Summary:

First Period:
BUF: 16:23 - Tage Thompson (9) PPG (Kyle Okposo, Rasmus Dahlin)
VGK: 5:44 - Chandler Stephenson (6) PPG (Jonathan Marchessault, Alex Pietrangelo)

Second Period:
BUF: 14:09 - Casey Mittelstadt (3) PPG (Dylan Cozens, JJ Petrka)
VGK: 3:43 - Phil Kessel (2) (Nicolas Roy, Paul Cotter); 17:08 - Paul Cotter (2) (Nicolas Roy)

Third Period:
BUF: 9:40 - Tage Thompson (10) (Jeff Skinner, Vinnie Hinostroza); 16:31 - Rasmus Asplund (2) SHG (Dylan Cozens, Jacob Bryson)
VGK: 3:52 - Alex Pietrangelo (1) (Jack Eichel, Chandler Stephenson); 6:13 - Jack Eichel (7) (Alex Pietrangelo, Chandler Stephenson); 14:37 - Jack Eichel (8) (Chandler Stephenson, Mark Stone); 19:52 - Jack Eichel (9) ENG (Alec Martinez)

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Penalty Summary:

First Period:
BUF: 4:32 - Peyton Krebs (Hooking - 2 min.)
VGK: 15:46 - Mark Stone (Interference - 2 min.)

Second Period:
BUF: NONE
VGK: 12:29 - Mark Stone (Tripping - 2 min.)

Third Period:
BUF: 16:11 - Rasmus Dahlin (Slashing - 2 min.)
VGK: 17:23 - Reilly Smith (Slashing - 2 min.)

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STATS OF THE GAME:

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Photo credit Losi and Gangi

Losi and Gangi Three Stars of the Game:

1. Jack Eichel - VGK
2. Chandler Stephenson - VGK
3. Alex Pietrangelo - VGK

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What's next:

The Sabres will remain home for two more games before heading back out on the road. Buffalo next welcomes the Boston Bruins for a 7 p.m. EST faceoff on Saturday night at KeyBank Center.

Pregame coverage on the flagship home of the Sabres Radio Network - WGR Sports Radio 550 - begins at 6 p.m. EST with Brian Koziol.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Joshua Bessex - Getty Images