Vegas Golden Knights v Buffalo Sabres
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Jack Eichel got the last laugh. He was booed throughout pregame warmups and every time he touched the puck during Thursday's contest in Buffalo against the Sabres. But he embraced it all in a big way, as the former Sabres star recorded a hat trick and an assist as the Vegas Golden Knights topped the Sabres, 7-4.

Prior to Thursday's game, the Golden Knights center admitted that he was "hurt" by the cold reception that he received from the Sabres crowd when he returned to Buffalo last March, which resulted in a 3-1 Golden Knights loss. This time around, he gave the fans a taste of their own medicine.

Eichel scored all three of his goals in the third period, but the first one was certainly the most significant. The Golden Knights center deposited a rebound into the back of the net off a point shot from defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and made sure to taunt the crowd right after he did so.

The goal put the Golden Knights ahead 5-2 just 3:52 into the final period.

"You guys were here, they were obviously on me all night," Eichel said, according to the Associated Press. "Yeah, it felt good to get one."

At the 14:37 mark of the third period, Eichel got into the scoring act yet again. With the Golden Knights entering the offensive zone on a rush, teammate Chandler Stephenson hit Eichel with a pass as he cut down the center of the ice. Eichel corralled the puck and had no problem putting it through the five-hole of Sabres goaltender Eric Comrie to extend the Golden Knights' lead to 6-3.

Eichel added an empty-netter to complete the hat trick. It marked the third of his career and his first as a member of the Golden Knights.

"It says a lot about his character. I know people here think he doesn't have character but, my God, we've seen what Jack really is and he's carrying a big load for us," Golden Knights winger Mark Stone said. "For him to be able to do that tonight, I know it's special for him. I'm almost getting emotional just being a part of it."

With the victory, the Golden Knights closed out a five-game road trip and won their ninth straight game, which is just one short of a team record that was set back in April 2021. Vegas currently has a league-best 13-2-0 record (26 points) on the season.

This was just Eichel's second game against his former team since being traded to the Golden Knights last November. Eichel had spent the first six seasons of his NHL career with the Sabres, but a disagreement with the franchise over a procedure to repair a spinal disc herniation led to the star center asking for a trade. Once he was traded to Vegas, Eichel had his preferred surgery.