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Pens Weekly: Jarry Embracing Busier Stretch In Net In Recent Weeks

March 17, 2019
Pens Weekly: Jarry Embracing Busier Stretch In Net In Recent Weeks

WILKES-BARRE — With all the open ice and scoring chances it creates, 3-on-3 overtime doesn’t seem like it would be enjoyable for a goaltender. But even after going past regulation in three of his seven consecutive starts through Thursday, Tristan Jarry doesn’t mind being the one in the crease with key points on the line. “They’re fun; it’s fun,” Jarry said after a practice last week at the Toyota SportsPlex. “It’s fun for the fans and good entertainment. It’s fun to be a part of. It’s something that it would be nice to close one out a little earlier than that but, if it has to happen, it does. “I think you just keep playing. There’s not much more you can do other than that, is focus on your next shot and next save or whatever it might be. I think it’s just about being prepared for anything.” Lately, that mindset has helped him flourish despite a heavier workload. With the Penguins trying to climb up the Atlantic Division standings, they have relied on the 23-year-old Jarry over the last three weeks to keep them in contention every game. The British Columbia native has responded with a couple of his best performances all season, including a 34-save shootout win over Providence on March 1 and a season-high 38-save outing on Wednesday against Lehigh Valley at PPL Center. With 15 games left in the regular season, Jarry needs to appear in only nine more to set a new career-high for games played. His previous high was 45 in 2016-17, when he played in the AHL All-Star Classic and formed a potent tandem with Casey DeSmith. “If you’re talking to him, he wants to play every game, every minute, and that’s a good thing,” Penguins head coach Clark Donatelli said. “Right now, we’re running with him. He’s getting the job done and gives us the best chance to win.” At least in recent seasons, the Penguins haven’t often relied on one goaltender to play night in and night out. In 2017-18, because of injuries and transactions, they had three netminders — Jarry, DeSmith and Anthony Peters — appear in 16 or more games each. However, circumstances are different now with the Penguins essentially in playoff mode. Not to mention, Jarry has carried a heavy load before. In his rookie season in 2015-16, he made 19 starts from February through the end of the season. Last season, he was the clear No. 1 to finish the schedule and started all three games in the Calder Cup playoffs. Jarry started the season a little slow statistically, but has given up only two goals or fewer in four of those seven starts to lower his goals-against average to 2.63. His .916 save percentage is 15 hundredths higher than his regular season mark from last season. Furthermore, some of his best stops have come in important spots. On March 8 against Hartford, for example, he stopped a pair of clean breakaways in overtime to get the game to a shootout. Jarry said he embraces the increased urgency of the playoff chase and credits his teammates for putting him in great positions to succeed during his recent busy stretch. “It’s just the commitment to detail, and with the workload I’ve had, I think it gets easier every day focusing on what I need to do,” Jarry said. “Obviously, the team has been doing a great job in front of me. I don’t think it’s a goal myself; it’s a goal for the whole team. It’s great to see the stats come along with the great play our team is having.” The Penguins were 5-2-2-1 in their last 10 games entering the weekend. Donatelli said the team will watch Jarry’s minutes, but the goaltender is in great shape and will continue to get the vast majority of starts as long as he feels good. The rest of the team feels good having him in the blue paint. “He’s awesome every night,” forward Sam Miletic said after last Saturday’s win over Syracuse. “He’s our backbone. He keeps us in a lot of games and wins a lot of games for us. Can’t say enough about him.” Contact the writer: tpiccotti@citizensvoice.com; 570-821-2089; @CVPiccotti on Twitter