TORONTO — Brandon Pirri has been nothing if not honest throughout his pro hockey career, maybe even to a fault during his early days with the Chicago Blackhawks organization.
And when it comes to his play this season, the Golden Knights’ left wing didn’t hold back.
“It’s not a secret I’m a little streaky. At the beginning of the year, the opportunities were there, so there wasn’t really a panic,” Pirri said Thursday. “Towards the end (of October), I just don’t think I was playing well. I wasn’t playing offensive. I was more worried about not getting scored on, and that’s not going to be successful for anyone.”
Pirri was back in the lineup Thursday after being a healthy scratch the past four games, skating against his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena.
He replaced Tomas Nosek as the left wing on the third line alongside center Cody Eakin and right wing Cody Glass.
Right wing Alex Tuch is not on the road trip because of an upper-body injury, and coach Gerard Gallant said “he shouldn’t be too long.”
“Every chance to play in the NHL I’ve kind of learned that it’s an opportunity I’ve worked hard for, so you’ve got to make the most of it,” Pirri said. “I want to play, but the guys have been playing good, especially on that third line.
“I realize that with (Tuch) back, it makes that line a lot better, and it’s unfortunate he’s out, but that just means an opportunity for other guys.”
Pirri made the opening night lineup for the Knights and appeared in the first four games. But he’s been in and out of the lineup since and didn’t have a point in his previous seven appearances.
In nine games prior to Thursday, Pirri has one assist and his 42.4 shot attempts percentage at 5-on-5 is ahead of only Cody Eakin (38.7) and Tuch (32.4).
“I think the beginning of the year was a little cold, and then I don’t think I was playing my type of game towards those last couple games I was in,” Pirri said. “I think I’ve got to play my game, and that’s the way our team works. Everyone is put in position to succeed, and I don’t think I was playing to my abilities.”
The Knights recalled defenseman Nic Hague and forward Nicolas Roy from the American Hockey League on Thursday prior to the game against the Maple Leafs.
Hague said he returned to Chicago after Tuesday’s win at Columbus before rejoining the team in Canada. He grew up in Kitchener, Ontario, about two hours from Toronto and had several friends and family in attendance.
Luckily, he didn’t have to buy their tickets.
“It’s pretty special and kind of surreal a little bit,” Hague said. “This is the building I’d come to when I was younger to watch NHL games. It was kind of cool just being out there for morning skate.”