Patience, preparation and a payoff goal for Blackhawks’ Brandon Pirri
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter October 17, 2013 9:25PM
Updated: November 19, 2013 6:36AM
Brandon Pirri didn’t know who had the puck from his first NHL goal. Didn’t know where to display it, anyway.
“I’m living out of a hotel right now,” he said. “There’s no real special place. But it’s something I’ll keep forever.”
Pirri one-timed a Marian Hossa feed past St. Louis goaltender Jaroslav Halak in the first period Thursday night. It was only Pirri’s ninth career game, but he’s made NHL cameos for four straight seasons, so some of his teammates weren’t even sure if it was his first goal, and had to ask.
“I waited a long time for that,” he said.
Pirri started on the third line with Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw, then moved to center when Patrick Kane swapped places with Shaw as coach Joel Quenneville tried to wake up the offense.
Pirri got to the NHL on the strength of his offense — he was the AHL’s leading scorer last year with 22 goals and 53 assists in 76 games. And he thinks he can help offensively even from a checking line.
“It’s a big part of my game and I’d love to contribute that way, but also we’re not allowing a whole lot, so I want to keep that going,” Pirri said. “It’s not a bad problem to have. If you have four lines that can attack, it keeps the other team on their heels.”
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock again raved about the difficulty of playing against K ane.
‘‘He’s stealth — he’s smart stealth,’’ Hitchcock said. ‘‘There are certain players, maybe eight or nine players in the league, that read the game — they know the puck is going to get turned over a second or two before it actually gets turned over. And then he’s gone. You wonder why he gets all these odd-man rushes and all these scoring chances — it’s because he has anticipation that’s ahead of everybody on the ice. He makes you nervous.’’
With Michal Rozsival out (illness), Sheldon Brookbank played in his third game. Quenneville said Michael Kostka will play Saturday against his former team, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Backup goalie Nikolai Khabibulin will get his second start next week at Florida or Tampa Bay.