Brandon Pirri’s job description with the Golden Knights doesn’t come with a lot of duties.
“I’m here to shoot the puck,” he said.
Pirri’s shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later style paid dividends again Thursday, as he scored with 9:49 remaining in the third period to give the Knights a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche at T-Mobile Arena.
Center Paul Stastny had a goal and an assist on his 33rd birthday to help the Knights win their final home game of 2018 and extend their home points streak to nine games (7-0-2).
The Knights finished 2-0-2 on their homestand in front of an announced crowd of 18,505, the second largest in team history behind opening night against Philadelphia (18,555) on Oct. 4.
“It’s nice. I had some family in town,” Stastny said. “The old man (Hall of Famer Peter Stastny) was in town. It’s his first time in Vegas, so I think I’ll be more excited about the two points and maybe a birthday drink tonight.”
Pirri was officially recalled from the American Hockey League on Thursday morning after being briefly sent down during the holiday break to stop his service time from continuing to accrue.
Pirri has four goals in four games with the Knights this season and has registered at least one point in all six games he’s played with the franchise (seven goals, one assist).
Pirri took a pass from Stastny near the blue line, and his first shot was blocked by Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson. But he grabbed the loose puck and launched a long shot from the left point that went through traffic to beat Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer.
“If I’m going to contribute, it’s going to be scoring goals,” Pirri said. “My confidence never wavered. I always believed in myself. This is just another opportunity to prove myself.”
The Knights successfully killed off penalties to Oscar Lindberg and Jon Merrill in the final six minutes of the third period. Colorado’s power play ranked fourth overall and No. 3 on the road at 30.6 percent entering the contest.
“That’s obviously the key part of the game,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “Those guys did an outstanding job and good for them. They got scored on in the first PP in five seconds on a great play by Colorado and from that part on they did a great job.”
Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves to earn his league-leading 21st victory. It also was his 50th career win with the Knights.
”I wish it would’ve happened before Christmas break. Those (were) two tough losses,” Fleury said. “The game was close all game long. It’s nice to win that one.”
Gallant predicted a feeling-out period after the three-day holiday break. But both teams had plenty of jump from the opening faceoff, combining for 28 shots on goal and 30 hits.
J.T. Compher opened the scoring at 9:42 of the first when he redirected Mikko Rantanen’s pass five seconds into an Avalanche power play for his 10th goal.
Stastny, who played eight seasons with Colorado, tied the score less than two minutes later with his third goal. Grubauer stuffed Stastny on the first attempt, but he banged in his own rebound at 11:40.
Grubauer, who was pulled in Saturday’s 6-4 loss at Arizona, made 41 saves.
“Any time you play against a former team, you don’t really care how you do,” Stastny said. “I think you just want to win as a team, and especially where both teams are in the standings. Some teams have games in hand on us, so those are big two points for us.”
1. Birthday boy. Paul Stastny wasn’t the only Golden Knights player celebrating a birthday on Thursday. Forward Jonathan Marchessault turned 28 but was held scoreless to end his modest two-game points streak.
2. Sin bin. The Knights took four penalties against the Avalanche, with two of them by forward Oscar Lindberg. His holding penalty with six minutes remaining in the third period led to some nervous moments down the stretch.
3. Quiet Carrier. Knights forward William Carrier played a team-low 6:38. He had two shifts and was on the ice for a total of 1:03 in the third period. It’s not clear whether Carrier was injured or if coach Gerard Gallant shortened his bench.