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Penguins backup goalies Casey DeSmith, Tristan Jarry move to forefront |

Penguins backup goalies Casey DeSmith, Tristan Jarry move to forefront

Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford’s actions — or lack thereof — at the trading deadline did all the talking in regards to the organization’s faith that Casey DeSmith and/or Tristan Jarry are worthy of handling backup goaltending duties down the stretch and into the playoffs.

But in case any verbal confirmation of that confidence in DeSmith and Jarry was needed, the Penguins captain and head coach each provided their endorsement after practice Wednesday.

“We have lot of confidence in them,” Sidney Crosby said.

“We believe in these guys that we have,” coach Mike Sullivan said a few minutes later.

In between, DeSmith was asked if he and Jarry felt any need to prove themselves capable — in a worst-case scenario for the Penguins — of carrying the load as a No. 1 goalie. Matt Murray sat out practice two days after being injured when he was struck in the head by a puck.

“We definitely hope that Matt is back sooner rather than later — and definitely sooner than the playoffs,” DeSmith said. “But at the same time, instilling some faith with the teammates and coaching staff that we can handle it if need be, that’s really important too.”

As Murray remains in the NHL’s concussion protocol — Sullivan said no update would be forthcoming until there is a change in status — the Penguins will turn to a backup for the second consecutive game Thursday night in Boston.

Two nights after DeSmith stopped 35 of 38 shots in a 3-2 home loss to New Jersey, either he or Jarry will be in net for another big intraconference game.

Is there a degree of pressure weighing on a man who was an AHL backup just a year ago?

“You can ask any goalie — there’s always pressure,” DeSmith said. “Even if you might be playing a bottom-level team in October, you still feel pressure just because you’re the last line of defense, all eyes are on you, and if you make one mistake then you get roasted.”

After a shaky NHL debut in which he was thrown into the proverbial fire (three goals allowed on 15 shots in 41 minutes of a 7-1 loss at Winnipeg in October), DeSmith has largely handled his pressure with aplomb. The Penguins’ No. 4 goalie when the regular season began, he won three of his first four NHL starts when he was the No. 2 in January. His season stats (2.35 goals-against average, .925 save percentage) are solid, too.

Jarry (10-4-2, 2.58, .916) has largely exceeded expectations, as well, at age 22.

Still, neither is Murray, a two-time Stanley Cup winner. Sullivan insists the Penguins aren’t changing their mindset or style just because an inexperienced backup is in goal.

“I don’t think we have to do anything drastically different,” Sullivan said. “We trust the (goalies) that we have.”

Sullivan said DeSmith “gave us a chance to win” Tuesday and that porous defense was more the culprit. Sullivan led a poignant film study Wednesday morning exhibiting the myriad defensive breakdowns the Penguins had against the Devils.

“We’ve got to do that more to win this time of year, regardless of who is playing goal for us,” Sullivan said.

DeSmith and Jarry have been thrust into action at less-than-ideal times. That, Crosby said, should only harden them and make them better equipped to handle adversity and big moments.

“These guys have been in different positions all year – and in some cases, not easy positions – and they showed a lot of poise,” Crosby said.

“They’ve come in and have done a great job every time they’ve been called upon, and we just have to do a good job in front of (whichever plays).”

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

The Penguins' Derick Brassard collides with the Devils' Miles Wood in the first period Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith makes a save on the Wild' Zach Parise in the first period Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith makes a save on the Wild' Marcus Foligno in the third period Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
Pittsburgh Penguins' Tristan Jarry, right, makes a save as teammate Olli Maatta, center, of Finland, and Columbus Blue Jackets' Nick Foligno fight for position in front of the net during the second period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. The Penguins beat the Blue Jackets 5-2. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
New York Rangers' Michael Grabner (40) backhands a shot on a breakaway past Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry (35) in the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Zach Aston-Reese tries to redirect the puck past Sabres goaltender Chad Johnson in the first period Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, at Pegula Ice Arena in State College.
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