Rookie Sillinger’s hat trick leads Blue Jackets past Knights

Published 11:21 pm Sunday, March 13, 2022

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Eighteen-year-old Cole Sillinger, the youngest player in the NHL, admitted he was still in a bit of a daze after finishing off his first hat trick in the Blue Jackets’ 6-4 win over Vegas on Sunday night.

“It didn’t really feel real, and then and then kind of going forward in the second period there, I was kind of, not really zoned out but just like, ‘Oh my god, what just happened?’” said Sillinger, a Columbus native who turns 19 on May 16. “Pretty cool.”

Sillinger, who had eight goals in his first 56 games, scored once in the first period and twice in the second, with veteran linemate Oliver Bjorkstrand assisting each time.

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Bjorkstrand had a goal of his own, and Patrik Laine tied the team lead with his 23rd of the season for the Blue Jackets, who have won two straight. Eric Robinson completed the scoring with an empty-netter with 11 seconds left.

The Blue Jackets dealt a fourth consecutive loss to the Golden Knights, who are trying to stay in playoff contention in the Western Conference.

Jonathan Marchessault, William Carrier, Evgenii Dadonov and Jack Eichel scored for Vegas. Logan Thompson made 32 stops in just his third game this season.

“The guys just keep pushing, they just keep pushing and playing hard,” Columbus coach Brad Larsen said. “You know that’s a desperate team we were playing. We knew where they were at. We talked about it. They need these points bad, so you better be focused and ready. I thought we had a good start. And that was real key to this game.”

Laine got Columbus on the board nine seconds into a Columbus power play. Gus Nyquist, posted to the left of the goal, found Laine in the right circle for the finish 2:12 into the game.

It took Vegas only a minute to equalize. A Columbus turnover resulted in Marchessault beating Merzlikins with the team’s first shot on goal. Carrier then got credit for a goal when Nicolas Roy’s shot went in off his skate at 7:23 in the first period.

The Jackets grabbed the lead back with two goals in 30 seconds. Sillinger, scored from the doorstep off a beautiful centering pass from Bjorkstrand, who got the next one with a one-timer from the slot.

Sillinger got his second goal early in the second period, redirecting a long Bjorkstrand one-timer. The rookie completed the hat trick about two minutes later, shoveling in a pass from Max Domi.

The Golden Knights got it back to 5-3 when Dadonov finished a rush with a tap-in goal at 8:28 of the second.

Eichel made it 5-4 with a power-play goal early in the third, and Robinson capped it for Columbus with the empty-netter.

“Same old story,” Vegas center Chandler Stephenson said. “Until we can figure it out, it’s a good enough reality check. Guys should be woken up by now.”


Golden Knights: F Max Pacioretty didn’t play because of undisclosed injury suffered in Friday’s loss to Pittsburgh. He had 15 goals and 14 assists in 29 games but missed 33 games because of a broken foot and a wrist injury that required surgery. Nolan Patrick was in for Pacioretty, playing for the first time since Feb. 16. … D Ben Hutton went into COVID-19 protocol on Sunday.

Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets were without two key players because of injuries. Center Boone Jenner has had recurring back problems and was put on injured reserve on Friday. Jenner is the team captain and also the top goal scorer with 23. Jakub Vorecek injured his knee in Friday’s overtime win over Minnesota. Brendan Gauce and Trey Fix-Wolansky replaced them in the lineup.


Domi got in a fight with two Golden Knights in the first period, and ended up getting Columbus a power play. It all started when Alex Pietrangelo took issue with a hard hit by Domi in the corner. Domi threw punches with Pietrangelo. After Pietrangelo went down, Nicolas Hague jumped on Domi and started in. All three ended up going to the box for roughing. It was clearly a fight but wasn’t penalized as such.


Golden Knights: At Winnipeg on Tuesday.

Blue Jackets: At Ottawa on Wednesday.