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Penguins Room: Patience Pays Off; Dumoulin Will Drink to That



Pittsburgh Penguins Brian Dumoulin

The Pittsburgh Penguins threw 45 shots at Nashville goaltender Juuse Saros Thursday night.

He stopped 43 of them, and didn’t let anything into the net until Jason Zucker shoveled in a Brian Dumoulin feed from the left side of the crease with 5:45 to go before the second intermission.

Saros singlehandedly kept the Predators in the game, and it didn’t go unnoticed on the other bench.

“We had a lot of good looks,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “Give Saros credit.”

That’s only fair, but Sullivan’s players deserve some, too, for not allowing Saros to frustrate them and stray from their game plan.

“He played well,” said Jake Guentzel, who scored the Penguins’ second goal during a third-period power play. “We knew going in that he was a good goaltender. That’s the biggest thing for us. We just can’t get frustrated. We have to make sure to keep going.”

The Penguins were so focused on the task at hand that, according to Guentzel, they were oblivious to what was going on in Montreal. That’s where Florida, the Penguins’ closest pursuers in the wild-card race, were running up a 5-2 victory over the Canadiens.

“Haven’t seen anything,” he said. “So I have no idea.”

He does, however, have a good feel for just how important this victory could be for the Penguins, who won consecutive games just once in March.

“It hasn’t been easy for us lately,” Guentzel said. “So for us to get these two points … and hopefully, get some traction.”

Tristan Jarry

Tristan Jarry made his return after not playing in the previous three games memorable, as he turned aside 28 shots to record his 13th career shutout.

And while he understandably was pleased to get back — and to contribute to a victory — Jarry said his time away from the crease had some benefits.

“Obviously, anytime you can get away from it for a little bit, it takes a little bit of stress off you and you’re able to just prepare your game and work on the things you need to in practice,” he said.

Something that worked in Jarry’s favor was the limited number of second-chance shots with which he had to deal, as the Pittsburgh Penguins effectively cleared loose pucks from around the net.

“That’s something we talked about the last couple of games, not giving teams second chances,” Jarry said. “Blocking shots and getting pucks out. That helps our game, obviously.”

Jason Zucker

Jason Zucker’s game is predicated on hard work, but he can appreciate a nice display of finesse, too,

Like the one Brian Dumoulin flashed while setting up Zucker for what proved to be the game-winning goal.

“That’s a Norris Trophy-winning pass right there,” Zucker said. “Unbelievable.”

The Penguins didn’t produce many such moments against the Predators, but they did execute their game plan consistently and methodically, something that hasn’t always been the case this season.

“I thought we played on our toes most of the night,” Zucker said. “Even when we were up, I felt like we kept pushing. … In the second period, I don’t know how many shots they had (5), but it seemed like we had a lot of (offensive-)zone time. When we’re playing at our best we have o-zone time, possession time, and we’re keeping teams on their heels.”

The Pittsburgh Penguins have had considerable trouble protecting leads in the third period in 2022-23, but that wasn’t a particular problem Thursday.

“It’s an area of focus for us right now,” Zucker said. “Obviously, we’ve given up some leads this year. We’re trying to get better at that, down the stretch here.”

Brian Dumoulin

Brian Dumoulin isn’t considered one of the sport’s great puck-handlers or set-up men — not even by members of his immediate family — but he did some deft work in the slot before setting up Zucker’s goal.

“I would have loved the opportunity to shoot it, too, but I didn’t really have that option, with how hard the pass (from Evgeni Malkin) was,” he said. “I was just trying to collect it, and I saw (the defender) go down and I knew (Zucker) was up on the play, back-door, so I just laid one over there.”

Turns out that Dumoulin will be getting more than just his 19th assist of the season for that feed to Zucker.

“He said ‘Great pass,’ and he owes me a bottle of wine,” Dumoulin said. “I’ll be waiting for that.”

And not just any bottle of wine. Well, close to it, maybe.

“I like pinot,” Dumoulin said. “I like burgundy. But I’ll try anything, as long as it’s made well.”