During the recent NHL All-Star Game, Tristan Jarry stopped an incredible 14 of 15 shots in 3-on-3 play to seal a victory for the Metropolitan Division. The plucky netminder authored a similarly show-stopping performance last night, making 43 saves to backstop the Penguins to a hard-earned 4-2 victory over the always nettlesome Bruins at TD Garden.
While his teammates stumbled out of the starting blocks following a week off, Jarry made a series of miraculous, game-saving stops, including a stunning glove save on Tomas Nosek from point-blank range, an incredible behind-his-back stop during a goal-mouth scramble and another amazing glove save on (memory fails me).
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Thank God for Tristan Jarry.
It was all Bruins at the start. The tone for a rocky first period was set just 1:40 in when Radim Zohorna drew a tripping minor. Twenty-one tics later David Pastrnak beat Jarry clean on a wide-open look from the left dot.
The Bs upped their lead to 2-0 at 15:34 thanks to a colossal blunder by Kris Letang. Following a hustling play by Kasperi Kapanen to keep a play alive, Tanger pinched ahead of a line change and misfired from the right circle, springing the Bruins on a counter 3-on-1. Jarry had no chance as Pastrnak struck again from the side of the cage.
The closing minutes of the period were more of the same. Had it not been for the play of No. 35, the bad guys could’ve blown the game wide open.
As I watched our boys flounder through the early stages of the second period, an article titled, “What’s Wrong with Our Penguins,” began to fulminate in my brain. Well, apparently the PenguinPoop curse works in reverse… even when I do not actually commit words to paper… lol.
Suddenly, our guys found a little “hidden vigorish” as the ol ‘Gunner, Bob Prince, used to say. Just past the four-minute mark Mike Matheson sprung Brock McGinn and Danton Heinen on a 2-on-1 off a neutral zone turnover. McGinn flipped a backhand saucer pass to Heinen approaching from the left. The ex-Bruin cut in front of the net and slipped a silky backhander past goalie Jeremy Swayman.
The tally had the effect of jump-starting your car’s dead battery on a frigid winter morn. Previously comatose, the Pens sprang to life. Following the ensuing faceoff, the ubiquitous Heinen struck again, firing a gravity-defying shot from the right circle that climbed over Swayman’s shoulder and in.
In the blink of an eye… or 28 seconds to be precise… the tenor of the game completely changed. The surging Pens proceeded to snatch a 3-2 lead at 12:53 of the period while working with a man-advantage. Bryan Rust misfired on a wide-open look from close range but followed up his miss with a short pass to Sidney Crosby below the left circle. Sid made no mistake, dropping to a knee to beat Swayman for the go-ahead marker and the 499th goal of his illustrious career.
Thanks to Jarry and the aforementioned saves, the Pens held serve through the final stanza. Long enough for Rust to split an empty net at 18:31 and lock up two big points.
The Bruins held a 45-25 edge in shots on goal and a whopping 73-48 advantage in shot attempts.
It was good to see us get offense from someone other than our big guns. In addition to Heinen’s two-goal effort, McGinn, Matheson, John Marino and Evan Rodrigues picked up assists.
Evgeni Malkin missed the game due to Covid. Heinen took his place and earned the third star. Jarry garnered top-star honors, and rightfully so.
Rust (a goal and an assist) had a tough night, absorbing a stick to the chops and a big hit that sent him hobbling to the dressing room. Nice to see the hustling winger get rewarded with the empty netter.
With the victory, the Pens (28-11-8, 64 points) move into a second place tie in the Metro with the Rangers, one point behind the front-running Hurricanes and five ahead of the fourth-place Capitals.
Up next, the vastly improved Senators in Ottawa on Thursday night. We’ll likely face old friend Matt Murraywho’s rebounding nicely from a rocky start and early season demotion.
And the Worthless Piece of Dung Award Goes to…
…Brad Marchand. After Jarry stoned him from point-blank range in the closing seconds, the Bs assistant captain went berserk, sucker-punching the unsuspecting netminder from the blind side and sticking him in the mask for good measure.
Absolutely despicable. Which pretty much sums up Marchand’s on-ice character.
What goes around comes around. Hopefully someone wastes the little BLEEP one day. The game will be far better off without him.