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Jack Eichel’s overtime heroics lift Knights past Jets

Updated October 30, 2022 - 9:46 pm

Five pairs of tired legs were on the ice as the Golden Knights and Winnipeg Jets approached the end of overtime Sunday at T-Mobile Arena.

None of them belonged to Jack Eichel.

The Knights’ No. 1 center took full advantage in an incredible 12-second sequence that justified the price of admission for the announced crowd of 17,824 in attendance.

Eichel, after receiving the puck from defenseman Shea Theodore with 19 seconds remaining, circled the offensive zone. Then he cut back, drove past Jets center Mark Scheifele, got around goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and scored with seven seconds on the clock to give the Knights a 2-1 win in a game they never led until the end.

Eichel’s magical moment thwarted a potential robbery by Hellebuyck, whose incredible 46-save performance nearly stole a second point for the Jets. The Knights (8-2) continued their incredible start instead with their fourth straight victory. Their eight wins are tied with Boston for the most in the NHL.

“I knew I didn’t have a ton of time,” said Eichel, whose 10th overtime goal was the latest in Knights history. “I heard the bench when I turned say 10 seconds or so. Just wanted to get a quick play to the net. Able to get a step and find a way to score.”

Captain Mark Stone said it was “almost comical, honestly” how many good looks the Knights had.

They outshot the Jets 48-25. They had a 28-9 edge in high-danger scoring chances, according to the website Natural Stat Trick.

Hellebuyck made those numbers moot for most of the game. It didn’t matter whether he had to use his glove, pad or paddle. He found a way to make saves and kept the Knights off the board the first two periods of the game.

That bought enough time for the Jets (5-4) to make a breakthrough.

Rather than panic, the Knights kept at it.

Stone tied the game by swatting his own rebound out of midair and under Hellebuyck’s glove seven minutes after Jets center Adam Lowry’s goal. The Knights kept pushing from there. They just couldn’t find a way to break through.

That is, until Eichel found an opening and decided to make some magic. His goal, which gives him 10 points in 10 games, means the Knights will head out on a five-game road trip with the second-best record in the NHL.

“Sometimes those are some of the hardest games to play,” Eichel said. “He’s one of the best goalies in the world, and he made some incredible saves. He made some down the stretch. He made some in the first, the second. You let a team hang around and the goalie plays really well like that, those are tough games sometimes. … It’s important to find a way to get two points there.”

Here are three takeaways from the win:

1. Hellebuyck’s gem

Hellebuyck decided to be a brick wall for Halloween this year.

The 2020 Vezina Trophy winner refused to flinch no matter how many pucks the Knights fired at him. He made a spectacular stick save on defenseman Nic Hague in the first period. He stopped Stone from the slot on an early Knights power play. He denied center Nicolas Roy from his crease with 28 seconds left in regulation.

Hellebuyck’s 46 saves were his third-most in a game in his career.

“We just couldn’t get it by him,” Stone said. “But we were resilient and didn’t stray away, get too frustrated and got the job done at the end.”

2. Hill steps up

Knights goaltender Adin Hill was less busy than his counterpart.

Hill had to make only eight saves in the first two periods. But he stood firm after allowing the game’s first goal to give the Knights time to find a winner.

Hill made 11 saves in the third period and four more in overtime to improve to 4-0. That included a save on a breakaway attempt by former Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt with 2:05 to go in the extra session.

“I feel like I’m playing well,” Hill said. “The guys in front of me did a great job. You look at those first two periods tonight, it’s hard to find any fault in our game.”

3. Stone’s effort

Sunday was another example of how different Stone looks this season.

The Knights’ leader, coming off offseason back surgery, recorded his second multipoint game with a goal and an assist. He had seven all of last season, and none in his final 10 appearances.

Stone’s team-leading seven shots on goal against the Jets were also more than he had in any game last year.

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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