CRANBERRY — It was minutes away from being one of the gutsiest performances in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ history. A victory in Game 7 by the Penguins over the New York Rangers in Round One of the 2022 playoffs would have put Tristan Jarry in the same conversation as Jaromir Jagr’s 1998 performance, essentially on one leg, to beat the New Jersey Devils. Instead, Jarry, on one healthy foot, fell into the same category of unsuccessful comebacks, including Mario Lemieux’s one-off attempt to get the 1990 Penguins into the playoffs.
Lemieux was not yet healed from major back surgery but played in the final game of the regular season. A Penguins win meant a playoff berth, but instead, they lost in OT to the Buffalo Sabres when Uwe Krupp scored on a 60-foot slap shot from the blue line.
Some of us still aren’t over that one. Based on the number of references and repeated references, the Pittsburgh Penguins still aren’t entirely over last May, either.
The Penguins led for most of the game until late goals tied the game. The disappointment was evident in the nearly despondent Penguins. After Game 7, Jarry hobbled into the press room, not a short walk from the visitors dressing room, following the Penguins’ loss to the New York Rangers, 4-3 in OT at Madison Square Garden.
His ankle was heavily taped, and the configuration included a large ice pack. At the time, PHN reported behind-the-scenes conversations were more like Jarry pleading and insisting that he start Game 7, and coaches eventually agreed.
To add insult to the injury, the Rangers scored the tying goal in the final minutes after Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson bolted off the ice due to his dislodged helmet in the defensive zone. For several seconds, the Rangers essentially had a power play. The Penguins’ 3-1 series lead was gone, and their first-round playoff losing streak reached four years.
Tristan Jarry Injury
The full extent of Jarry’s ankle injury wasn’t publicly known until Thursday. He admitted his ankle took more than a month after Game 7 to heal, and he wasn’t supposed to play until the Conference Final or even Stanley Cup Final.
“The plan ultimately was to play the Game 7, take more time off, and then play again hopefully later in the second round. The ultimate plan wasn’t for me to play at all until Round Three or Four,” Jarry admitted on Thursday. “So I think this coming back for that Game 7 was something that I wanted to do. I wanted to give the team a chance, and I wanted to leave everything out there and try and make it to Round Two.”
For anyone who wonders if the team has confidence in Jarry, inserting an injured goalie into the biggest game of the year should answer that. Jarry stopped 26 of 30 but was much better than the numbers indicate.
He nearly pulled it off if not for some bad luck.
Such unsuccessful performances are often lost to the din of history, but they’re not lost on teammates. If there was any question about Jarry’s heart or worries about his playoff fortitude, those were answered.
“It’s tough watching the team go out and give it their all every night. There’s something inside you that just doesn’t feel right when you’re unable to help the team, and you have to sit there and watch,” Jarry said. “So it’s always tough to watch from the sidelines, especially with what happened. I wanted to go out there, I wanted to play. Coming in for the last game, I was doing everything I could. I was hoping that I would give the team a chance to win.”
Tristan Jarry certainly did. On one foot.