PREVIEW: Tristan Jarry back in form as Pittsburgh Penguins host Islanders

Feb 18, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry (35) makes a save against New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) as Pens right wing Bryan Rust (17) defends during the first period at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

A week has made quite a difference for Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry, who presumably will make his fourth straight start Saturday in a home game against the New York Islanders.

On Thursday, he stopped 31 of 32 shots and was working on a shutout most of the game in Pittsburgh’s 4-1 win over the Islanders.

That pushed his three-game stats over the past week to 98 saves on 105 shots, a save percentage of .933. Before that, he had a save percentage of .857 and was pretty much sharing the net with Casey DeSmith.

The Penguins put all their trust in Jarry when they traded two-time Stanley Cup winner Matt Murray during the offseason, so his uneven start in his first full season as the No. 1 goaltender was concerning.

Jarry explained his bounce-back to last season’s form, when he eventually displaced Murray and made the All-Star Game, in simple terms.

“Just working hard on (my game) in practice and making sure my habits are good,” he said. “I think that’s where (the improvement) comes from. “That helped tidy up my practice habits, and it translated into my game.”

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Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan has seen improvement in several areas.

“He looks much more comfortable in the crease,” Sullivan said of Jarry. “He’s challenging the shooter. He’s tracking the puck in traffic. His rebound control has improved.”

In addition to Jarry, a notable story line for the Penguins on Saturday surrounds team captain Sidney Crosby. He is scheduled to play in his 1,000th game. He has 468 goals and 1,276 points.

The Islanders, meanwhile, had their eight-game point streak (5-0-3) snapped Thursday.

“We had a good run,” said Brock Nelson, who had New York’s only goal Thursday. “(We’re all) trying to bank as many points as you can with the shortened season and only playing in our division. You need to get runs like that.”

They figure there’s no time like Saturday to start a new point streak.

“We’ll regroup and get ready (for the rematch),” Josh Bailey said.

New York coach Barry Trotz agreed.

“We can be better,” he said. “We just have to respond.”

That would include finishing offensively. Before Thursday, the Islanders had scored at least three goals in four straight games and in six of seven games. Then they ran into Jarry.

“I don’t think we got to their net well enough, but we didn’t execute on some of our chances to create a little bit more offense,” Trotz said.

Familiarity between the Islanders and Penguins has bred some feistiness. Saturday will be their fourth of six meetings in February.

Thursday, there was a fight between Pittsburgh’s Brandon Tanev and New York’s Casey Cizikas, a tussle that fell short of a fight between Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin and New York’s Scott Mayfield. More sore feelings among the Islanders when the Penguins’ Mike Matheson took a boarding penalty for a big hit on Mathew Barzal. Matt Martin’s response to Matheson bought him an unsportsmanlike penalty.

“(As we’re) starting to see these guys more and more, both sides get sick of seeing one another,” Islanders captain Anders Lee said. “If you play enough hockey, these kinds of things are going to happen. … It’s expected. It’s what makes this game fun and exciting and hard. (We have) a great opportunity to get back at them.”

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–Field Level Media