We scribe types have a thing we call a non-answer answer that we sometimes get in response to a question. Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry gave a doozy of an example late Sunday night.
Jarry was asked about playing on an injured right foot after the Penguins’ tough, season-ending 4-3 loss in overtime against Rangers in New York in Game 7 of the teams’ first-round playoff series.
After all, he had been out since April 14 with what is suspected to be a broken bone in that foot.
Here’s the telling non-answer answer: After a pause, Jarry said, “Uh … I was able to play.”
It’s easy to extrapolate that Jarry was far from 100 percent and would not have been deemed ready to play under many other circumstances.
And that the guy gutted out something most likely painful and difficult to make 26 saves and help give the Penguins a chance to extend their season.
There also was visual evidence to suggest that. On his way to and from the interview table postgame, he had that right foot heavily iced and seemed to walk with some pain.
The injury left Jarry with some unfinished business. He admittedly – and if he hadn’t admitted it, many others were there to remind him — didn’t play his best a year ago, and that was a large factor in the Penguins’ first-round playoff loss against the New York Islanders.
Penguins winger Jake Guentzel nearly got emotional Sunday night when asked about Jarry.
“It’s just unbelievable,” he said. “The guy’s been through a lot. He’s been a rock all year long. Just to see him out there in Game 7 fighting the way he did, I mean, it’s just unbelievable what that guy does for our team.
“It’s just tough when you can’t get the win for him, just how hard he battled and made a lot of good saves for us.”
Penguins backup goaltender Casey DeSmith started the series, and it seemed to be his net. But in the second overtime of Game 1, he pulled himself out of the game with an injury that later required core muscle surgery.
In stepped third-stringer Louis Domingue, cold and with a heavy meal of spicy pork and broccoli in his belly, as the story goes. Domingue is a journeyman NHL goalie for a reason, and he held things down as best he could.
But when the Penguins missed two shots to clinch the series and headed to New York for Game 7, it was a no-brainer to go with Jarry if he could possibly play.
Even given the obvious physical discomfort, Jarry simply wanted to be involved, to be a good teammate.
He said he wanted to “stand tall in there. … I think that’s something that the guys needed, just someone that could backstop them, someone that could make some saves when they needed.”
So, after being out so long, rehabbing, watching the final six games of the regular season (a stretch that included his 27th birthday), watching the Penguins go up 3-1 in the series, watching as the Rangers came back with two straight wins, Jarry was put in a pressure-packed and yet coveted position of making his return for Game 7.
“I think it’s just being calm and making sure that you’re putting your best foot forward,” he said. “Just being able to play, I was grateful for that, that they trusted me to put me in for that. I wanted to give it my best shot.”
We are fairly confident there was no pun intended, but, man, he said it.