Brandon Pirri's made a number of trips from Rockford to Chicago and back since his professional career began, but over the last month he's made a point to prove he's now where he belongs.
During the second period of Wednesday's victory over the Jets, Pirri scored his third goal of the season off a breakaway pass from Ben Smith to give the Blackhawks a 3-0 lead in the second period.
"The team played well, we did the little things right and capitalized when we had chances," Pirri said following his team's 4-1 win. "(Smith) made a great pass and when you have an opportunity like that you want to make the most of it."
The Blackhawks credited much of their success last season to the team's strong depth throughout all four lines. The same has gone for this season, as Pirri's spent time playing on the team's second and fourth lines. On Wednesday, he and Smith credited much of their chemistry to their years of playing together for the IceHogs of the American Hockey League.
"We played together a lot in Rockford, so when I heard (Pirri) yell that he was open, and when he gets those breakaways, more often than not they're in the back of the net," Smith said. "It was a nice finish for him."
Prior to the game, coach Joel Quenneville discussed the importance of the fourth's line's defensive performance. On Wednesday he liked what he saw from Smith and Pirri together on both ends of the ice as the Blackhawks held the Jets to just a single goal.
"I thought they had a good night," he said. "Pirri had a good game, Benny made a great pass, great finish. But I thought they had some good looks offensively. Pirri was good defensively on a couple plays at his own end. He was around the puck more, had the puck more, and I thought that line played well together."
The offensive production is coming along, and as the Blackhawks' newest members continue to develop, they feel their defensive performance is improving, too.
"It's coming along well," Pirri said. "Something I'm working on is faceoffs, because if you start with the puck you don't have to play defense, so it's something where I'm trying to continue to get better."
Pirri continues to make a good name for himself whether he's playing on the Blackhawks' second line or with his recent Rockford teammates. Now it'll be about continuing that strong of a performance on both ends of the ice in order for him and Smith to remain together in Chicago.
"Every night is a battle and every night's a test," Smith added. "If we can continue to show that we can be strong defensively, obviously as a team that's important and limiting (the Jets) to one goal — if you do that more often than not, you're going to win games."