Eichel scores twice, but Hill leaves early in Golden Knights' 4-2 win over Blue Jackets

Vegas Golden Knights center Ivan Barbashev (49) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, March 23, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Ian Maule)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jack Eichel scored two goals for his 500th and 501st career points and Vegas maintained playoff position with a 4-2 victory Saturday night over the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets, but Golden Knights goalie Adin Hill left early in the third period.

Ivan Barbashev and Pavel Dorofeyev had the other Vegas goals. Chandler Stephenson and Shea Theodore each had two assists.

Hill, who had 12 saves on 13 shots, left the game less than five minutes into the third. Logan Thompson played the rest of the game and made eight stops.

Knights coach Bruce Cassidy said he didn’t know the severity of Hill’s injury, and might not even know Sunday morning when the team leaves for St. Louis.

“Obviously, if he’s not able to go, we’ll have to look to Henderson and get some help there,” Cassidy said of the club’s American Hockey League affiliate. “But right now, I don’t want to speculate.”

Erik Gudbranson and Carson Meyer scored for Columbus, which was outshot 47-22. The Blue Jackets, playing the second of a back-to-back, gave up 51 shots in a 6-1 loss Friday night at Colorado. Daniil Tarasov recorded 43 saves against the Knights.

The Knights have won five of seven games to remain four points in front of the Blues for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The teams meet in St. Louis on Monday, the beginning of a four-game road trip that are all against Central Division teams either in playoff position or competing for a spot.

“I don’t think you ever want to put the title of defining a season (on these games), but we understand the importance of them,” Eichel said. “We’ll be ready to play on the road.”

Columbus is 1-5-2 in its past eight games.

The Blue Jackets took the early lead when Gudbranson scored 4:32 into the first period. His shot from the right point went off Hill’s arm into the net for a 1-0 lead. Zach Werenski’s assist moved him into second place in Columbus’ career list with 205, passing David Vyborny.

Columbus nearly added to the lead when Johnny Gaudreau rang a shot off the right post as timing was expiring in the period.

The Knights took the lead in the second period with a pair of rebound goals. Barbashev collected his own rebound to score from the slot at 3:31 and Eichel netted the puck from the left circle on Zach Whitecloud’s carom.

But the Blue Jackets were fortunate to head into the second intermission down just a goal. Vegas had five high-danger chances that period, according to the website Natural Stat Trick, and outshot Columbus 22-3.

“You could see tonight we were wearing them down,” Vegas defenseman Ben Hutton said.

Blue Jackets coach Pascal Vincent agreed.

“The team looked tired,” Vincent said. “When the body gets tired, the brain shuts down and I saw a lot of mistakes. We were second on loose pucks, protecting the middle of the ice in the D-zone. We were getting better at that, but today in the second period, we didn’t take care of that. Part of it is Vegas turned the heat up a little bit more.”

The Knights extended their lead to 4-1 in the third period on goals by Dorofeyev and Eichel before Columbus answered with 12 seconds remaining on Meyer’s wrist shot.


Blue Jackets: At Arizona on Tuesday night.

Golden Knights: At St. Louis on Monday to begin a four-game road trip and with seven of the next out of town.


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