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3 takeaways from Knights’ win: Playoff heroes Eichel, Hill shine

Updated November 22, 2023 - 10:52 pm

Jack Eichel weaved his way down the ice and beat Jake Oettinger 1:57 into overtime to give the Golden Knights a 2-1 road win over the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night.

The victory allowed the Knights to end their road trip with a 2-2-1 mark. They return home to play the Arizona Coyotes at 7 p.m. Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.

After the Stars created the best early chances in the extra session — which followed a mad scramble in front of the net at the end of regulation that Dallas couldn’t convert — Eichel danced his way down the ice looking for an opening.

He appeared to whiff on his first attempt after gaining possession in the defensive zone, but retained the puck and fired it past Oettinger after faking him off his skates.

“We get the puck back in our own zone, come up on the ice, we’re weaving a bit to trying to get them to make some bad reads to get an opportunity to attack,” Eichel said. “Originally, I was trying to pull it back and shoot it using the defensemen as a screen. I fanned on it a little bit, and the puck goes through the legs.

“It was just me and the goalie, trying to go around him, and lucky to see the puck go in.”

All that really mattered was the result.

“It’s not at all how you draw it up – I fanned a couple times – but I’ll take it,” Eichel said. “It was good to get the two points. It’s been a long road trip for us. It’s never easy being away for this long, and we knew it was going to be a tough game tonight. It’s always close when we play them.”

Eichel’s heroics ensured the Knights didn’t waste a great effort from fellow playoff star Adin Hill and an early goal by Michael Amadio that was set up by a beautiful feed from Nicolas Roy.

Roy took the puck near the post in front of the net and sent a no-look backhand pass across the crease and onto the stick of Amadio for a finish that gave the Knights a 1-0 lead in the first period.

It was the first time the Knights scored in the first period on the five-game trip.

Amadio, who entered the game with a 10-game goalless drought, credited Roy for the feed that set him up with a clean look, pointing out they worked on that exact situation during Wednesday’s morning skate.

“That was pretty special,” he said of the pass. “We practiced that this morning.”

Roope Hintz equalized, taking advantage of a slow line change by the Knights in the final minute of the second period.

The Knights are 9-1-1 on the season when scoring first.

Here are three takeaways from the win:

1. Hill shines in Dallas

Hill went nearly 100 minutes of game time without allowing a goal to the Stars at American Airlines Center before Hintz finally broke through in the final minute of the second period Wednesday.

He made sure it was just a blip on an otherwise tremendous night.

Hill stopped 31 of 32 shots, including some key plays in overtime. He was also the biggest factor in the Knights staying in the game despite allowing the Stars to tilt the ice in their favor in the second period.

Dallas outshot the Knights 17-6 in the middle frame and had nine of the first 10 shots on goal. Yet Hill was able to keep the score at 1-0 until a slow line change helped lead to a goal by Hintz.

“I was just trying to battle through screens,” he said. “I got a lot of dips and a lot of loose looks around the net. It felt like I was seeing the puck well and trying to find it through all the legs and bodies over there. Our defensemen did a great job taking some sticks and clearing a few areas where I needed a little help.”

He was coming off a shutout in the same arena in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final last season.

2. Short-lived lineup

There was a great deal of excitement when the team was able to play with its projected lineup of 18 skaters for the first time all season Sunday in Pittsburgh.

They weren’t together very long.

Alec Martinez missed Wednesday’s game with a lower-body injury, a development announced by the team just before the puck dropped. It’s the sixth game Martinez has missed this season.

Ben Hutton got the start and was paired with Zach Whitecloud on the third pair.

It wasn’t a huge disruption for the Knights, largely because Hutton had already played 13 games this season as the Knights worked back to full strength.

He played 14:07 on Wednesday night.

3. Fond memories

It was the first time back at American Airlines Center for the Knights since they played perhaps their best game of the entire season and clinched a Stanley Cup Final appearance with a 6-0 win in Game 6 on May 29.

Knights coach Bruce Cassidy holds that night in high regard because of how well all aspects of the team came together and delivered a nearly flawless performance, but his memories are more about the time everyone shared off the ice in Dallas.

“We didn’t fly home until the next day, and the weather was great here, so we had a team meal over at the hotel,” Cassidy said. “We sat out by the firepit. I’m not a cigar guy, but some of them were. It was kind of a ‘put your feet up’ moment where we got to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to the Stanley Cup Final.’ I do remember that night vividly. It was good to be around the guys.”

Cassidy also remembers being so close to the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, which is awarded to the Western Conference champions, and not being able to touch it because the team had collectively decided not to touch it out of superstition.

“That was a bit of a bummer,” Cassidy said. “But the guys didn’t want to. I had never been around it. I had seen the other one, the Prince of Wales. But the best memory was later that night.”

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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