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3 takeaways from Knights’ win: Rookie’s 1st career goal caps comeback

Updated January 20, 2024 - 10:30 pm

Brendan Brisson couldn’t have picked a better time to score his first career goal.

The 2020 first-round pick gathered the puck between the circles and fired a shot that beat Tristan Jarry stick side just inside the post for the game-winner with 10:20 remaining in the third period as the Golden Knights defeated Pittsburgh 3-2 on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.

“That was crazy,” Brisson said. “I just put the puck on net and saw it went in and then kind of blacked out. I don’t even know if I (celebrated) or anything. I was pretty hyped.

“You try not to think about (how your first one will happen) too much before, but the storyline is perfect. It couldn’t have gone any better. I’m just happy it went in.”

It was the third goal in 4:22 for the Knights (27-14-5), who trailed 2-0 entering the third period.

Jonathan Marchessault cut the lead in half at the 5:18 mark, and Pavel Dorofeyev tied it 1:34 later. Both of those goals came from crashing the net and jumping on loose pucks.

“We were going down that path of another shutout, which has happened a lot to us where we haven’t had enough pushback when necessary,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “But then we got inside. I liked our push, and we kept pushing.”

Brisson credited some of the veterans for rallying the team during the second intermission.

“Being down two, we came in the locker room, and all the leaders said everything they needed to say,” Brisson said. “Then we went out there and got back to our game, and (Marchessault) started us off by scoring a big goal, then (Dorofeyev), and then (Ivan Barbashev) gave me a good pass in the slot, and I was just able to capitalize.”

Barbashev also assisted on Marchessault’s goal, and Logan Thompson made 23 saves in the win.

Ryan Graves and Jake Guentzel scored in the second period for the Penguins (21-16-6).

It was the third straight win for the Knights, who haven’t lost since Brisson was recalled from Henderson.

Here are three takeaways from the win:

1. Like son, like father

Marchessault scored a big goal for the Knights, but he wasn’t the high scorer in the family Saturday night.

His son and Alex Pietrangelo’s son participated in a youth hockey game that took place during the first intermission. Both players came out from the locker room to watch the action.

While those exhibitions often feature a lot of scrums around the puck, Marchessault’s son flashed some real skill and skating ability to separate from the pack. It resulted in him scoring two goals in just a couple of minutes. He also got free and was attacking the net for a third, but decided to make a pass instead of shooting.

2. Misfit returns

Reilly Smith wore a suit instead of a sweater, but it didn’t make his return to T-Mobile Arena any less emotional.

Smith, an original member of the Knights who was traded to the Penguins this offseason, appeared in the tunnel behind Pittsburgh’s bench just before the first media timeout in the opening period.

Then a tribute video played that had players from both teams looking up at the jumbotron and tapping their sticks for Smith, who was stoic.

After the video, the camera caught several fans who were fighting back tears for one of the most popular players in franchise history.

Smith has eight goals and 20 points in 40 games this season. He wore No. 19 throughout his tenure with the Knights, a number now donned by Saturday’s hero, Brisson.

3. Celebrity sightings

It was a big day in Las Vegas for New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers played Shadow Creek Golf Course with several Jets teammates during the day and made a hole-in-one at No. 17 in what he said was his first full round since undergoing surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon.

He attended the Knights game Saturday night, where he was shown on the jumbotron to a hearty round of boos from the crowd.

His appearance on screen happened while his former team, the Green Bay Packers, were leading the San Francisco 49ers in the second half of a playoff game. The 49ers eventually rallied for a 24-21 victory.

There was a much more welcoming cheer for another celebrity who was shown on the screen during the second period.

Brendan Hunt, who plays Coach Beard on “Ted Lasso” and is a co-creator of the popular show, received a big ovation. A clip from the show that is regularly used to fire up the crowd at Knights games was shown just before his appearance.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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