Pirri, Stastny help Golden Knights beat Coyotes 5-1

Vegas Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith (19) scores a goal against Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper (35) during the second period of Sunday's game in Gila River Arena in Glendale. [AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin]

By Jose M. Romero
The Associated Press

GLENDALE — Brandon Pirri has had a late December to remember for the Vegas Golden Knights.

The journeyman forward had a goal and assist in the Golden Knights’ 5-1 win over the Coyotes on Sunday night, and has five goals as part of his seven points in the six games he’s played for Vegas this season.

Pirri failed to register a point in only one of those games. He’s been a regular since Dec. 20.

“It’s a lot of fun playing here because everyone’s contributing,” Pirri said. “Things are going good. I’ve always believed in myself and I’m getting the opportunity. When you get the opportunity you have to reward the people that put you in this spot and at the same time I have to reward myself. I put in a lot of work.”

Paul Stastny also had a goal and an assist and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots for Vegas. Reilly Smith, Cody Eakin and Ryan Carpenter also scored to help Vegas win its third straight and extend its points streak to six games.

The Golden Knights have won five of six games against Arizona since Vegas entered the NHL last season.

“We played hard, we played quick. We were good with the forecheck, we were good with the puck and we didn’t make a lot of mistakes,” forward Jonathan Marchessault said.

A large following of Golden Knights fans made plenty of noise for the visiting team in the most recent installment of the fledgling rivalry, and saw their team take control with three goals in the third period.

The third was a short-handed goal from Carpenter, his second goal of the season.

Just when the Golden Knights’ first power play ended, Pirri got a rebound behind the net and backhanded the puck back toward the crease, where Stastny was waiting to stuff it in at 3:35 of the first.

Arizona’s Nick Schmaltz appeared to tie at 1 with 8:54 left in the second period, but the goal was reviewed on a coaches’ challenge and overturned for offside.

Vegas made it 2-0 with 3:57 to play in the second. Brad Hunt tipped a loose puck in front, and Smith got to it first for a shot that zipped past Darcy Kuemper.

Kuemper finished with 33 saves.

The Coyotes took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play with two Golden Knights in the penalty box to get their lone goal at the 2:58 mark of the second. Alex Galchenyuk scored, with Oliver Ekman-Larsson getting the assist.

Ekman-Larsson reached 312 career points, passing Keith Yandle for the most points in franchise history for a defenseman.

Galchenyuk ran his points streak to five games, in which he has totaled seven points.

Eakin edged the puck over the goal line at 4:21 of the third for his 12th goal of the season, and Pirri scored on a breakaway less than three minutes later.

“I liked the way we played all night, not just the third period,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said.

Arizona started the third period on a power play — one of six on the night — but couldn’t produce and fell further behind.

A frustrated Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet called his team’s effort an implosion less than 24 hours after Arizona got an overtime win at Anaheim.

“Just very casual from a lot of key guys,” Tocchet said. “I just saw a team go totally south on us. You want to be a good NHL hockey team or a player, you’ve got to be consistent. … So maybe we have some players here that just can’t do it regularly and we’re going to have to find some players that will.”

NOTES

Coyotes F Brad Richardson missed his third straight game with an illness. … D Kevin Connauton was shaken up in the first period and left the ice, but returned for a shift in the final seconds of the period and stayed in the game. … Vegas F Valentin Zykov, just claimed off waivers on Saturday, was scratched. So was F Tomas Nosek, who missed his first game since Dec. 20. … F Alex Tuch was given a penalty for a check to the head when he drove a shoulder into Arizona’s Nick Cousins, which led to the Coyotes’ power-play goal in the second.

UP NEXT

Vegas: Hosts Los Angeles on Tuesday night.

Arizona: Hosts Edmonton on Wednesday night.



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