LAS VEGAS — Jack Eichel, in his return Thursday night after missing 11 games because of injury, had a goal and two assists, leading the Golden Knights past the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 at T-Mobile Arena.

The Knights lead the Western Conference and are tied for second in the NHL at the season’s midway point.

Pittsburgh, a 2-1 loser Monday to Boston in the Winter Classic, has lost six straight (0-4-2) since Dec. 27.

After giving the Knights a 2-0 lead early in the first period, Eichel assisted on goals by Chandler Stephenson and Mark Stone.

Paul Cotter, who returned after missing eight games with an upper-body injury, and Phil Kessel also scored while Adin Hill made 38 saves.

“It’s good to see contributions up and down the lineup,” Eichel said. “I think that’s one of the strengths of our group is we have a deep team and can roll four lines out and play against anyone.”

Coach Bruce Cassidy agreed and praised the Knights for their collective effort in a game that had nine players with at least one point. But Cassidy said it was evident the team had more energy with its standout center in the lineup.

“He’s an elite player in the league,” Cassidy said of Eichel. “He’s excited to play again. He was having I would say an All-Star-type of year when he started. Might still be in the mix.”

The Knights have won three straight and four in a row at home, where until recently they had struggled to win during the first half. The Knights are 12-9 at home, where they play their next six games.

Ty Smith scored early in the third for Pittsburgh, his first, and Sidney Crosby added his 20th with 1:30 to go. Casey DeSmith made 26 stops.

Kessel, who won two Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh, opened the scoring, punching home Cotter’s pass less than two minutes into the game.

Eichel then beating DeSmith with a quick wrist shot on a breakaway down the right side of the slot. Stephenson’s one-timer over DeSmith’s glove midway through the first made it 3-0.

The Penguins dominated the second period, holding a 20-12 edge in shots on goal, but couldn’t solve Hill. Instead, the Knights extended their lead with just 11 seconds left when Stone deflected in Brayden McNabb’s shot.

“We’re a better hockey team than that. We showed it in the second and the third, but we didn’t give ourselves a chance because we didn’t play well enough in the first,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “I’m sure everyone involved is frustrated because our expectations are high.

When you don’t live up to them … that’s one of the emotions you deal with.”