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Jack Eichel scores, lifts Golden Knights past Devils 3-1

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jack Eichel scored his 21st goal of the season and the Vegas Golden Knights beat the New Jersey Devils 3-1 on Sunday.

After the Devils took a 1-0 lead 38 seconds into the third period, the Golden Knights scored the next two goals with Eichel’s being the go-ahead.

Maneuvering his way through the neutral zone and finding open ice at the top of the slot, Eichel finally beat New Jersey goalie Jake Allen with his seventh shot of the game to the delight of an announced sold-out crowd of 18,234.

“We stuck with it, it was a big win for us, we needed it,” Eichel said.

William Carrier and William Karlsson also scored for Vegas, while goalie Logan Thompson stopped 20 shots. Defenseman Noah Hanifin added two assists for the Golden Knights, who have now won three of four since losing nine of their previous 11.

Vegas, which plays its next three at home, distanced itself from Minnesota in the wild-card race. The defending Stanley Cup champion Knights (79) are five points ahead of Minnesota (74) for the second wild-card spot.

“I thought we played a good second period, first period we had some chances,” Eichel said. “Give their goalie credit, I thought he made some big saves for them, and I thought we just stuck with it. ... I thought (Thompson) was awesome as well, he made some huge saves for us throughout the whole game, so it was good to see him get in there and play well.”

Nico Hischier scored for New Jersey, which played on the second leg of back-to-back road games and its fourth away game in seven days. Allen made 34 saves.

“I think at the end of the day it was a solid effort,” Hischier said. “I think Vegas played a solid game as well, put a lot of pucks to the net. Jake made some unbelievable saves for us. ... It just didn’t go our way.”

Dawson Mercer appeared to open the scoring early for the Devils, tapping in a rebound, but the goal was overturned when it was ruled Timo Meier interfered with Thompson.

From there it turned into a shooting gallery for the Golden Knights, who went on to outshoot the Devils 24-15 through the 19:22 mark of the third period.

That was when Hischier took advantage of an errant rebound moments into the final stanza after the initial shot trickled past Thompson and Hanifin batted the puck into the slot.

But the Golden Knights weren’t too deflated, as Alex Pietrangelo took a cross-ice pass from Hanifin, and ripped a wrister from the top of the left circle, which deflected off Carrier’s shoulder to tie the game moments after Hischier’s goal.

It was Hanifin’s second two-assist performance in five games with Vegas, since being acquired from Calgary near the trade deadline.

“I think system-wise it hasn’t been too hard for me just because in Calgary we played a similar way,” Hanifin said. “But I think it’s just getting to know the tendencies of your teammates and kind of how they like to play. ... Feeling a lot more comfortable now.”

Karlsson’s empty-net goal with 20 seconds remaining provided the final margin.

Golden Knights Ivan Barbashev and Ben Hutton both played in their 500th career game.

UP NEXT

Devils: Host Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.

Golden Knights: Host Tampa Bay on Tuesday night.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl