Pirri’s goal in 3rd lifts Golden Knights over Avalanche, 2-1

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LAS VEGAS | Brandon Pirri has played in just six games for the Vegas Golden Knights, and four this season.

And all he does is net. Pirri scored his fourth goal of the campaign halfway through the third period Thursday night, giving Vegas a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

Colorado Avalanche center Carl Soderberg (34) and Vegas Golden Knights center Jonathan Marchessault vie for the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

“I’m just trying to contribute every way I can. It’s a great opportunity for me, I really don’t want to waste it,” said Pirri, who has at least one point in every game he’s played for Vegas. “The team’s playing well. I thought we played three solid periods tonight. We played a complete 60 tonight and it showed.”

Pirri, recalled from the AHL’s Chicago Wolves earlier in the day, sent a shot from the point past goaltender Philipp Grubauer with 9:49 left. In his six games with the Golden Knights, Pirri has recorded seven goals and one assist.

Vegas, coming into the game with the eighth-best penalty kill in the NHL, staved off back-to-back power plays for Colorado in the final six minutes. The Golden Knights have the fourth-best home penalty kill, stopping opponents on 48 of 55 opportunities (87.3 percent).

“I think it gives you a lot of energy when you have your guys go out there and kill a penalty,” Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt said. “It kind of deflates you for a second ’cause you’ve got to go right back into it, but guys take that pride in knowing they’re going out there and got to stop the power play, otherwise you’re possibly heading into overtime.”

The Golden Knights certainly didn’t want another overtime game after losing consecutive games in OT at home on Saturday and Sunday against Montreal and Los Angeles, respectively, by identical scores of 4-3.

“That was make or break right there. Last (two) games the other teams beat us at the end of the game and I didn’t want that to happen again,” said Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 31 saves to improve to 21-10-4. “I thought our guys did a great job in front of me, defending and taking space away from them. Our D-men have been great. I didn’t have too much action at some times, but at the end I knew I had to make a couple of saves to keep it there.”

Paul Stastny celebrated his 33rd birthday with a goal for the Golden Knights, who remained in third place in the Pacific Division with 46 points — one back of San Jose.

Grubauer (8-4-3) made 41 saves and J.T. Compher scored for the Avalanche, third in the Central Division with 44 points — two behind second-place Nashville.