Vegas remains in playoff hunt with 6-1 win over Arizona

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Brayden McNab scored a goal and assisted two others as the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Arizona Coyotes 6-1 on Saturday night.

With the win, the Knights moved to within two points of third place Los Angeles in the Pacific Division. There are nine games left in both Vegas and LA.

The Knights, who have won six of their last seven, moved up to eighth in the Western Conference with Dallas, with 84 points each. However, Dallas has two games in hand.

Zach Whitecloud, Max Pacioretti, Evgeny Dadonov, Jake Leschishin and Jack Eichel also scored for Vegas, while Robin Lehner made 29 saves.

“I think it’s weird; it’s cool,” McNab said of the three-point game of his first career. “It’s good to contribute. Things were working out tonight and being able to score some points But we got two points, that’s the biggest thing.”

Barrett Heaton scored the only goal for the Coyotes. Karel Vejmalka stopped 33 shots.

After a performance from the Pedestrians in a 5-1 home loss to Vancouver on Wednesday, 12 skaters registered points for the Golden Knights, who seem to be recovering as they go through a significant segment of the season.

Rather than relying on one or two leading goal scorers, or offensive playmakers, Vegas looked like a balanced team with an edge in scoring opportunities, 32-26.

“We haven’t been able to become the four-row team we want to be because of the injury situation,” said Vegas coach Peter DeBoer. “Tonight is the first night in a long time where we had the bodies to try to play that type of game. We want to be the team that we have to be, wins the playoffs.”

Pacioretti boosted the lineup in his return after missing the last 12 games. He gave Vegas a two-goal lead with his first goal since February 20 in San Jose, when Whitecloud opened the scoring as he skated from right point and sent a laser to Vejmalka’s shoulder in the far corner of the goal.

“I’ve recovered from multiple injuries before, so it wasn’t the weirdest situation,” Pacioretti said of scoring in his return. “The goal feels good, but at the same time, you are still wondering how you are going to manage the rest of the game. There was a bit of rest in the second, but got better in the third, which I am most proud of.”

Arizona joined the board later in the period when Heaton skated with Michael Carracon in the arena for a strange man crowd. Carcon sent the puck across the slot and just as he was falling down, Heaton beat Lehner to cut Vegas’ lead in half.

It was all the Coyotes would manage, as Lehner’s best performance since returning from a 12-game layoff due to injury.

“Small steps in the right direction,” Lehner said. “I was a little better today. Still some things. When you’re out for about a month, I don’t know, it takes a while. I felt a little too calm today. Still some things Which I got to keep working at the stretch.”

Dadonov pushed back the lead by two 40 seconds in the middle period when he took a pass from Shia Theodor, drove alone and fired at Vejmelka, who was seen gloved the shot. But as soon as it jumped over his office, he reached back to hold him and the puck went in.

“We did a lot of good things, loved our start, the early lead,” DeBoer said. “I thought they pushed back a little bit at first. I thought we regrouped between first and second. I loved our second period. I thought we really got on the game in the second round. Had regained control of how we played, even though it wasn’t on the scoreboard.”

Instead, Vegas lit up the scoreboard in the final 20 minutes.

McNab’s blast from the Blue Line five minutes into the third period extended Vegas’s lead to 4-1, while Leschichkin and Eichel added exclamation points late in the game to provide the final gap.

“It’s one of our opponent’s best performances,” said Arizona coach Andre Tourgeny.

Notes: In his 400th career game, Eichel scored the 150th goal of his career. Eichel became the 25th active player to score 150 goals in 400 career games. … Phil Kessel’s assist on Heaton’s goal was the 550th goal of his career.

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Arizona: Hosts New Jersey on Tuesday.

Vegas: A three-game road trip opens in Vancouver on Tuesday.

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