ST. PAUL, Minn. — Jack Eichel had a goal and an assist to lead a second-period outburst as the Golden Knights finished a six-game road trip with a 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.
Nicolas Roy, Alex Pietrangelo, Paul Cotter and Reilly Smith also scored against their former Golden Knights teammate, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who had little help. In fact, Fleury showed his disgust after giving up Eichel’s goal, the Knights’ fourth of the middle period, slamming his stick against the goalpost.
Kirill Kaprizov scored on a power play for the Wild against Logan Thompson, who made 23 saves before a noncontact injury early in the third period left him unable to put any weight on his left leg as teammates helped him off the ice.
Everything else up to that point was going well for the Golden Knights, who came out of a nine-day break to beat Nashville 5-1 on Tuesday with the fathers of players joining them on the road trip.
“They bring a lot of energy. Obviously, we want to play good for them,” Smith said. “They’ve supported us through our entire hockey career.”
On Eichel’s second-period goal, Jonathan Marchessault, who had two assists, flipped a pass to Eichel as he sped past Minnesota’s Marcus Foligno up the right wing. Eichel then ended a nine-game goalless streak, snappinga shot over Fleury’s right shoulder for a 5-1 lead with 6:37 left before the second intermission.
Fleury immediately turned and hammered his stick against the post before flinging it in further frustration past mid-ice. That was the third goal Fleury gave up in a span of 2:26, after Kaprizov had ignited the crowd with his team-leading 29th goal.
Filip Gustavsson, who was in the net for the 4-1 loss at Dallas the night before, replaced Fleury for the third period.
Fleury, who has a higher goals against average and a lower save percentage than Gustavsson, stopped 18 shots before he was pulled.
“There’s no blame for Marc-Andre Fleury, and his teammates said that in between the second and third period,” coach Dean Evason said. “Everybody knows what happened.”
One of the second-period goals Fleury allowed was a penalty shot after Alex Goligoski was called for slashing Smith, who sent the puck between Fleury’s pads after it glanced off the goalie’s stick.
“When you’re struggling to score, you can’t be giving them free goals,” Goligoski said.
The Wild, playing their first home game in 12 days, started a vital seven-game homestand against a bunch of winning teams. With three straight ugly losses out of their eight-day break, they’re in precarious position for the playoffs — tied with Calgary for the second wild-card spot.
Undisciplined play has been a major problem, and the absence of defenseman Jonas Brodin (lower-body injury) for a second straight game didn’t help. The Wild, who lost 3-2 at Arizona on Monday and 4-1 at Central Division leader Dallas on Wednesday, were booed in the final seconds.
The Golden Knights have gone the opposite direction since their break, despite recently losing captain Mark Stone to a back injury.
“This is the time good teams, I think, they don’t let points slip away,” coach Bruce Cassidy said.
Meanwhile, Thompson, who was replaced in net by Adin Hill, was “moving around” in the dressing room afterward, Cassidy said, and will have an MRI exam on Friday morning.
“We’ll have a much better idea, and hopefully we get good news,” Cassidy said.