Rookie Brendan Brisson's 1St Career Goal Gives Golden Knights 3-2 Win Over The Penguins

Vegas Golden Knights center Brendan Brisson (19) celebrates after scoring against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Vegas Golden Knights center Brendan Brisson (19) celebrates after scoring against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Rookie Brendan Brisson grew up a huge fan of Penguins stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, two players he shared the ice with Saturday night while playing just his third NHL game.

His dad, Pat, is one of the league's top agents and calls Crosby a client.

Any nostalgic feelings were put aside, though, when Brisson scored his first NHL goal — and it was a big one. With his parents in the stands, the 22-year-old knocked in the winner midway through the third period to give the Vegas Golden Knights a 3-2 victory over Pittsburgh.

“Just to play against those guys was super special,” Brisson said. “I was a little nervous before the game. In warmups, I was looking over at their end and looking at Sid, but it was awesome to get my first NHL goal against them.”

Brisson was a 2020 first-round draft pick, taken 29th. He wears No. 19, which previously belonged to Reilly Smith, an original Knights player who was traded to the Penguins in the offseason.

After scoring from the slot, Brisson went to a knee and punched the air before being mobbed by teammates.

“It's awesome to see the excitement, the smile on their face, the fans be really loud for him,” Vegas center Chandler Stephenson said. “It's something you dream of. I know for me, it was something to get (the first goal) out of the way, so I wouldn't be surprised if Briss starts playing better.”

The Knights have won five of seven games, and they ended Pittsburgh's four-game point streak.

Jonathan Marchessault and Pavel Dorofeyev also scored for Vegas, and Logan Thompson made 23 saves before a crowd that included New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Ryan Graves and Jake Guentzel scored for the Penguins. Tristan Jarry stopped 26 shots.

After a scoreless opening period, the Penguins peppered Thompson with 14 shots on goal in the second. Two of the shots got through — a shot by Graves off Thompson's back midway through the period and a blast from the right circle by Guentzel with 5:59 left.

Erik Karlsson had the primary assist on Graves' goal, extending his point streak to eight games (one goal, eight assists). It's the NHL's longest active streak for a defenseman.

Guentzel became the seventh player in Penguins history to put together seven 20-goal seasons. Only three other Pittsburgh players have longer 20-goal streaks than Guentzel — Jaromir Jagr with 11 and Rick Kehoe and Jean Pronovost with nine each.

The Knights struck quickly in the third, with Marchessault and Dorofeyev scoring 1:34 apart off rebounds to tie the game 6:52 into the period. Marchessault's goal was his team-leading 20th and was the third game in a row he hit the net.

Brisson's goal broke the tie for good.

“I liked our push and we kept pushing," Knights coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I think after it was 3-2, we tried to get the next one as well. (We) didn't sit back on our heels.”

For the Penguins, it was a night of what might've been.

“We didn’t defend hard enough," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. "All three of the goals were just seemingly nothing plays that ended up at the back of our net. We had numbers back. We’ve got to defend harder and we’ve got to have some predictability with how we defend. We didn’t have it.”

ORIGINAL KNIGHT RETURNS

Vegas played a tribute video for Smith, a key player on last season's Stanley Cup championship team. He had 124 goals and 286 points in 399 career games with Vegas.

The Knights traded Smith, who stood in street clothes behind the Penguins bench because he’s out with a lower-body injury, to Pittsburgh after last season to clear up salary-cap room. That helped them to sign goalie Adin Hill and winger Ivan Barbashev to contract extensions.

Smith was a fan favorite and the driving force between the annual charity softball game between the Knights and the Las Vegas Raiders.

UP NEXT

Penguins: At Arizona on Monday to conclude a two-game Western road trip.

Golden Knights: At New Jersey on Monday to begin a four-game Eastern road swing.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl