Only six days after Pittsburgh Penguins third goalie Louis Domingue made 40 saves on 41 shots and stole a win against the San Jose Sharks, Penguins backup Casey DeSmith started on Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now already laid out the goalie competition. The Penguins can’t keep three.
DeSmith lasted only 20 minutes after allowing two goals on 12 shots. Neither goal was a great shot or unstoppable. Ok, at least one if not two were softies. Gustav Nyquist fanned on a shot but then beat DeSmith from a tight angle. Then Boone Jenner’s short, fluttering wrister trickled through DeSmith later in the first period.
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan tapped No. 1 goalie Tristan Jarry to begin the second period. Jarry faced 43 shots just 24 hours earlier in the 6-4 win over the Ottawa Senators.
UPDATE: Sullivan defended DeSmith, implying DeSmith wasn’t quite ready for a start.
“I think we put Case in a tough spot tonight. You know, he’s just coming off COVID. Our intent was to get him a couple of practices to get more reps. Obviously, when Louie went down in the morning skate, it forced our hand there,” Sullivan said. “I think we put him in a difficult circumstance tonight. You know, Casey’s played a lot of really good hockey for us and we know the type of goalie that he is and what he’s capable of, and we’re going to work extremely hard to help case capture his best game.”
When Sullivan yanked DeSmith, who was activated from COVID protocol to backup Jarry on Thursday, it was the second straight start in which DeSmith got the hook. He was also pulled in the Penguins’ 5-3 win over the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 5.
When Sullivan pulled DeSmith on Jan. 5, he called it a “gut feeling.”
“It’s been a little bit of a struggle since (the holiday break). But we know he’s a good goaltender. We’ve got to help him get to his very best game.”
Louis Domingue, 29, may have been the starter on Friday had bad luck not befallen him, too. Near the end of the morning skate on Thursday, Domingue was struck by a shot on the instep of his skate. The Penguins placed him on IR Thursday afternoon.
Casey DeSmith, 29, remained at seven decisions in nine starts because the Penguins were tied when he was pulled. His save percentage this season fell to about .885. In his career, DeSmith has appeared in 79 NHL games. Domingue has played in 141.
Reaction among the Penguins fanbase and media was swift.
Unless we hear that DeSmith tweaked something, his career in Pgh likely near its end.
— Bob Grove (@bobgrove91) January 22, 2022
Wow—Sullivan yanks DeSmith. Maybe he’s not in shape. Let’s not jump to the (obvious) conclusion.
That’s 2 straight starts in which DeSmith got the hook.
— Dan Kingerski (@TheDanKingerski) January 22, 2022