Eichel, held out of the goal column in two losses for Vegas to open his season last week, scored his first goal as a Golden Knight and added an assist as Vegas defeated the San Jose Sharks, 4-1. It was the Golden Knights' 10th straight win over San Jose and snapped an uncharacteristic three-game losing streak.
Eichel, delayed from making his Vegas debut as he recovered from artificial disk replacement surgery on his neck in November following his trade from the Buffalo Sabres, finished off a nifty give-and-go with Chandler Stephenson to give Vegas a 2-0 lead in the first period. It was his first goal since Jan. 28, 2021, with Buffalo. The goal came during four-on-four play, with players from both sides in the penalty box.
"There was a little bit of relief," Eichel said on the game broadcast. "You get the first one out of the way, and just keep playing hockey."
Vegas acquired Eichel in a deal with the Sabres on Nov. 4 and he underwent the surgery the following week. He began practicing with the Golden Knights last month and made his debut last Wednesday as a top-line center.
"It's a little bit of pressure off of him now. But I liked his game tonight," Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think that with every game, he's taken another step, and tonight, he was that much better."
Beyond the statistics, Eichel simply looked more at ease against the Sharks; his skating strides were long and he was active in the corners on puck battles. In the third period, he attempted a wraparound, spinorama shot on San Jose goalie James Reimer that was deflected away. And in the first period, he was stopped on a breakaway. Clearly, though, as the game progressed, he looked more and more like the Eichel that became a superstar in Buffalo. He finished with 18 shifts Sunday night, covering 18:08 time on the ice.
"It's starting to come," Eichel said. "I'm just trying to get a little more aggressive. I feel like I've been passing up chances to shoot the puck, and I feel that generates a lot for my game, when I can just be aggressive. So, I just have to keep getting pucks to the net and keep it from the other team."
"He's starting to get more comfortable, he's using his speed and he's starting to get his timing," he said. "Those are good signs."
Goaltender Logan Thompson, up from the team's American Hockey League affiliate, picked up the win in his second career NHL start. Thompson, who lost his first start last month against Nashville, made 35 saves, including a few memorable ones late, when the Sharks had Reimer pulled.
Keegan Kolesar and Max Pacioretty also scored, and Stephenson added an empty-netter as the Golden Knights maintained their dominance of what once was a fierce rivalry. Eichel assisted on Pacioretty's goal early in the second.
Vegas won all eight meetings against San Jose last season and hasn't lost to the Sharks since Nov. 21, 2019, at home. The Golden Knights also haven't lost in San Jose since blowing a three-goal lead in the third period of Game 7 in the first round of the 2019 playoffs.
Nick Bonino scored the lone goal for the Sharks, who are winless in their last six games. Reimer made 31 saves.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.