Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant switched up his second and third lines for Saturday’s game against the Nashville Predators at T-Mobile Arena.
In search of a spark for his struggling team, Gallant put Brandon Pirri back on the wing alongside Paul Stastny and Alex Tuch on the second line. The three played together regularly during Pirri’s hot streak when he was first called up this season and scored seven goals in his first eight games.
The move paid off in the second period, when Pirri scored on the power play to give the Knights a 2-0 lead in their 5-1 victory.
“When they were playing together for Pirri’s first 10 games or so, they were plus-9,” Gallant said. “They were scoring goals and not getting scored against. They had good chemistry.
“I think players understand when you do things right now because we haven’t played well. It doesn’t mean it’s for good. Hopefully the players take it the right way. They want to win like we want to win.”
Before scoring Saturday, Pirri had only two goals in his past 11 games.
“It’s a long season, and there’s ups and downs,” Pirri said Saturday morning. “You try to limit the downs, but switching the lines is up to the coaches and doing what they think is going to be best. It’s up to us as players to react and perform. I don’t think we’ve been playing our best, and maybe this is the shot in the behind we need.”
Max Pacioretty played on the third line with Cody Eakin and Oscar Lindberg and scored the Knights’ first and fifth goals. Pacioretty’s usual line with Stastny and Tuch has been the Knights’ best for long stretches but stagnant during the recent slide.
“When you’re losing, you have to try new things, don’t you?” Gallant said. “The team hasn’t been good enough. Thursday night, they were minus-3. But it’s not about our line, it’s about our team. Some nights, it’s the so-called first line. When you’re winning, it’s different lines that carry you. When you’re losing, it’s the same thing. I’m not blaming those guys. I’m just trying to make our team better. Hopefully, you maybe shake up a few things and find some magic.”
Gallant also broke up his top two defensive pairs, playing Nate Schmidt with Deryk Engelland and Brayden McNabb with Shea Theodore. Schmidt had been playing with McNabb.
Subban’s number called
Vegas goaltender Malcolm Subban, who came off injured reserve last week, started for Marc-Andre Fleury for the first time since a Jan. 6 win over New Jersey.
“You try to do the best you can (to stay ready),” Subban said after Friday’s practice. “We have a lot of game situation drills, like three-on-twos, so that stuff you can definitely simulate. Practice is usually a lot harder for a goalie than the game because you get so many more shots. Obviously, you can’t simulate a game, but you can try your best to work hard and be ready.”
Subban’s mother, Maria, was in Las Vegas and attended the game. Another son, defenseman P.K. Subban, plays for the Predators.
Glass returns to Portland
Forward Cody Glass, one of the Knights’ top prospects, returned to action for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League for the first time since he suffered a left knee injury Jan. 26.
Glass scored his 14th goal of the season in the game. He also has 51 assists in 36 games.