The last time Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jason Zucker hit the ice for a game, his team looked different.
That is, it was healthier.
And a little older.
For the next five weeks or so, Zucker was sidelined with an alleged left leg injury, his team staged a youth movement, out of necessity.
With several veteran forwards such as Zucker, Evgeni Malkin and Brandon Tanev suffering from various ailments, the Penguins have turned to a handful of minor leaguers and recruits to fortify their forward ranks.
“Throughout training the guys really stepped up and played well,” Zucker said via video conference. “From (rookie forward Radim Zohorna) scoring his first goal to (rookie forward Anthony Angello) and (journeyman forward Frederick Gaudreau). So many guys are coming to the top of my head who have played really well. It takes an army when you have a ton of guys out there.
This notion should now apply to the goalkeeper position for the foreseeable future.
In Monday’s 2-1 win over the New York Islanders at PPG Paints Arena, starting goalie Tristan Jarry left the game after the first period with an undisclosed injury after making five saves on five shots .
He was replaced to open the second period by substitute Casey DeSmith.
According to coach Mike Sullivan, Jarry’s illness was something that “the medical staff felt enough to get him out of the game.”
DeSmith offered some optimism by suggesting that Jarry’s disease was not “something too serious”.
Despite only playing one period, Jarry was credited with the win, improving his record to 15-8-2.
Any prolonged absence of Jarry, an All-Star in 2019-20, would push DeSmith into the starter role and lead to reserving Max Lagace, currently assigned to Wilkes-Barre / Scranton, or Emil Larmi, currently a member of the taxi team. , be promoted to the position of replacement.
DeSmith made 19 saves on 20 shots, including a tough streak at 5:59 of the third period, first turning down Islanders forward Jordan Eberle on a backhand to the right of the cage, then forward Casey Cizikas on the rebound that followed.
“I thought Casey did a terrific job coming in,” Sullivan said. “It’s not an easy position to put a goalie. I thought Casey did a great job for us.
All of the Penguins’ attacks came in the first half. In each case, defender John Marino generated the chances.
The first goal entered 4:24 in the settlement on a power play opportunity. After Marino rushed onto the ice from his own left circle at the Islanders’ endboards, he pushed the puck into the zone, where Angello put a backhand past goaltender Semyon Varlamov for his second goal.
Then, at 6:28 p.m. of the first period, Marino took advantage of a bad lane change from the Islanders, pushed the play to the right wing and made a pass to the lunge, where forward Jared McCann took a dive. a redirect in the Varlamov blocker his eighth goal.
“If you have the free ice, obviously you have to take it,” Marino said. “It’s just how the game went and how these games went.”
The Islanders’ only goal came at 9:22 of the second period on a power play from forward Matt Martin, who redirected a puck from the right of the field past DeSmith’s tackle on the other side.
After that, DeSmith and his teammates fought off the Islanders’ offense and tied a virtual tie with New York for second place in the East Division with 48 points apiece.
Any possibility of overtaking the Islanders or the first place of the Washington Capitals (50 points) could depend on a greater contribution from DeSmith.
Given DeSmith’s success this season – he’s 8-3-0 – his teammates profess full confidence if they need to look to him for an extended period.
“We have the utmost confidence in him to move forward here,” said McCann. “As a team we have to play better in front of him, I think, sometimes. But when there’s a big save to be made, he’s there for us.
Seth Rorabaugh is an editor for Tribune-Review. You can contact Seth by email at [email protected] ou via Twitter .
Penguins / NHL | Sports