CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. – Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry has played in 28 NHL games over the past three seasons and looks to get into some more with Matt Murray out for a while with an injury. Still, Jarry locked down a highlight of his career last week while with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL before his recall.
Jarry scored a goal on Nov. 14 in WBS’s 5-1 win over Springfield. Take a look:
“We had a penalty kill and there was a TV timeout and there was, like, 2 minutes left,” said Jarry, who went to the bench during the timeout. “Both coaches came down to me and said if I could get it, I could shoot it. They said if you get the puck, you’re able to shoot it.
“It just ended up that it got deflected right to me, and I had enough time to take a clear shot. It was actually probably going to miss the net, and then the ice gave me a generous bounce and ended up putting it right in the middle of the net. It was pretty cool. I was actually pretty surprised it went in.”
Yeah, enjoy it, kid. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan wants none of that nonsense at the NHL level.
“I think we’ve got way more important things to think about rather than whether or not Tristan is going to score a goal,” Sullivan said after practice Monday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, eliciting some laughs from a surrounding gang of reporters but apparently mostly serious.
“We want him to make saves. We want him to make timely saves. We want to be hard to play against. We want to make sure we defend as a group of five – or six, for that matter – and then go from there.”
Sullivan didn’t directly answer the actual question about whether his goalies have the green light in the right situation to shoot for a goal or whether they would ever, as the WBS coaches did, specifically urge a goalie to go for one late in a game.
The coach has a point, of course, that something as novel as a goalie scoring a goal pales next to a goalie preventing goals in the big picture – – and the big league.
Jarry, 23 and a second-round draft pick in 2013, began the season in Wilkes-Barre, apparently partly because Casey DeSmith beat him out for the backup NHL job and partly because Jarry didn’t require waivers to be sent down.
Now that Murray is out for an extended time, Jarry and DeSmith will man the Penguins’ net. Jarry was recalled on an emergency basis last Thursday night and immediately started Friday at Boston, making 35 saves in a 2-1 overtime loss, leaving DeSmith to start Saturday in a 4-2 win over Columbus.
With back-to-back games again Tuesday at Winnipeg and Wednesday at Colorado, Jarry would be expected to get another start in one of them. The Penguins have 15 games in December, including two sets of back-to-back games, so Jarry should get some more playing time even as DeSmith’s backup.
“It’s always good and fun to play games, especially in the NHL,” Jarry said. “It seems like it’s been a while since I’ve been here and played a couple of games, so it’s good to get back here and see how I do.”
He was recalled briefly once before this season but was not needed in a game.
In his 28 NHL appearances, Jarry is 14-7-3 with a 2.75 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage. Knowing he would be the No. 2 or No. 3 goalie in the Penguins organization, he spent the offseason preparing to be ready for any NHL time he got.
“The biggest thing going home last year was making sure my summer was filled with a lot of workouts and making sure that my skating was getting better,” he said. “I always knew that skating was a big thing, especially at this level.”
Jarry has a house in the Pittsburgh area and stays in a hotel while he is with WBS, making recalls to the NHL more comfortable.
It remains to be seen how comfortable he will be if the occasion arises to try a shot on goal again. He does, however, practice it. A little bit.
“I usually take one shot a day and see what happens,” Jarry said. “I always make sure it’s on net.
“It’s something you might get (a chance for) every five years, every 10 years. You never know when it might happen. Maybe one day I’ll try it (in an NHL game).”
Former Penguins franchise goalie Marc-Andre Fleury strongly aspires to score in an NHL game. He has tried it many times late in games with his team up a couple goals or more and the opposing goalie pulled.
Jarry laughed when that was pointed out.
“I think for me, being a little bit younger, I have to be a little bit more calculated,” he said.
Given Sullivan’s stance, that would seem a safe approach.