It was a big morning after for Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry. But anyone expecting him to have a mental hangover or be downtrodden Tuesday – much less rattled or even broken – would be mistaken.
Speaking publicly for the first time since his misplay led to the Penguins’ 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders in double overtime Monday and put the Penguins on the brink of playoff elimination, Jarry was as steady and, frankly, monotone as ever.
With his and the team’s backs against the wall going into Game 6 Wednesday on Long Island trailing 3-2 in the series, Jarry was sounding no alarms.
“My mindset’s been the same all year – just get better and better every game,” he said after the Penguins held a brief practice at the UPMC Lemieux Sports complex. “Just practicing here, another day, another practice, another chance to get better.”
If it occurred to him that this could have been the team’s final practice of the season, he didn’t show it.
Jarry has played the entire series, which isn’t surprising given his status as the Penguins’ No. 1 goalie. Even if there had been thoughts of switching to backup Casey DeSmith, that’s out the question because DeSmith is injured, hasn’t resumed skating and did not travel with the team to New York.
So Jarry will take the ice at Nassau Coliseum for Game 6 looking to help his team tie the series and send it back home for what would be a Game 7 on Friday.
If Jarry’s low-key demeanor holds, he won’t be thinking about the first minute of the second overtime Monday, when his clearing attempt went straight to New York’s Josh Bailey, who fairly easily chipped the puck past Jarry to win it.
Asked to describe the play, Jarry said simply, “I saw a guy coming at me and a guy on the wall, so I tried to put it up the middle, and he picked it out of the air and was able to get a shot off and it went in.”
Asked if he would do anything differently, he said, “Uh, stop it.” Asked to offer his hindsight on the clearing attempt, he said, “I’m not sure. Maybe just leave it.”
Jarry didn’t say those things with any amount of snark, despite what it might look like in black and white. That just doesn’t seem to be his personality.
The Penguins certainly seem to have confidence in Jarry, 26, a former second-round draft pick who is going through the NHL postseason as “the guy” for the first time.
“I believe in Tristan. We believe in Tristan,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “We believe in the makeup of this group. And we believe we’ll respond the right way.”
Defenseman Mike Matheson backed that up.
“We have total confidence in Tristan,” Matheson said. “I think he’s one of the best goalies in the league. He proves that night in and night out. I don’t think anybody has any doubt in his ability.”
Postgame Monday, Sullivan vowed that the team would rally around Jarry.
So what did that look like? Jarry didn’t divulge much.
“It is what it is. If guys want to reach out – some guys like to stay quiet. I think it’s however you want to be,” Jarry said.
“I’m a pretty easygoing person, so I think it’s just going about my business and doing what I need to do to be better the next day.”
Matheson seemed to indicate that Jarry’s game-turning mistake isn’t much of a topic among the players.
“Inside the dressing room, there isn’t a whole lot of talk about it,” he said.
Perhaps the rallying around the goalie will happen more on the ice Wednesday.
Certainly, Matheson said, the Penguins understand what Jarry will be trying to bounce back from – and that the position he plays brings enormous scrutiny.
“The toughest part about being a goalie is if you do make a mistake, there isn’t somebody there to back you up, whereas if you talk to a defenseman or a forward, we make plenty of mistakes all throughout the game, but there are people there to back you up, and so they’re not as noticeable,” Matheson said.