After a disappointing Game 1 loss to the New York Islanders, the Pittsburgh Penguins rebounded mightily in Game 2. Although it got closer as the game went on, the team came out of the gate fast and strong, giving them the early 2-0 lead, and eventually, the win. Here are some of my takeaways from this game:
Tristan Jarry Bounces Back
All the talk after Game 1 was about how terrible Tristan Jarry played. Everyone knew he needed to redeem himself in Game 2, and that’s exactly what the young goaltender did.
Jarry saved 37 of 38 shots, recording a .974 SV% and 1.08 goals saved above expected (GSAx). This was the first postseason win in his career, improving his record to 1-1-1. He made many big saves, and the only goal he allowed was off of a nice backhander from Islanders forward Josh Bailey, who dangled around Jeff Carter and Mike Matheson before getting to the slot.
Matheson was impressed with Jarry’s performance, stating: “That’s the Tristan Jarry we all know and love. It was great to see that.”
This is a huge motivational boost for Jarry to take into New York for Game 3. The team has confidence in him, as do the fans, which allows him to be looser and not as afraid of making mistakes all game long. I expect him to play this well going forward, as the anxiety and jitters have seemed to go away as time has gone on, but only time will tell.
Fourth Line Shows Up Big Again
Are we sure these guys are not the first line? For the second straight game, the Brandon Tanev, Zach Aston-Reese and Teddy Blueger trio led the Penguins in expected goals percentage (xG%), due to their tremendous defensive work ethic to go with their offensive speed and hustle.
Tanev has been the best Penguins player in these two games, in my opinion. You can just tell the tempo of the game changes once he is on the ice. While he didn’t reach my two goals prediction from my previous article, he was still elite on the ice, with six hits and a 75.47 xG% through 12:02 TOI.
Tanev’s hustle has been amazing, and it didn’t slow down on Tuesday night. He was chasing down loose pucks, including one on a partial breakaway, which sent him flying into Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov, which ended up causing everyone to get into a scuffle in front of the net for a bit, which might have been the turning point for the Penguins energy.
Tanev’s linemates were great as well. Blueger won five faceoffs and looked very solid out there. He was great in the neutral zone and in transition, with a 76.50 xG%, mainly due to his team-best 0.14 expected goals allowed (xGA), meaning he shut down the potential high-danger chances very effectively.
Penguins Need More From Jeff Carter
I know, I know, Carter did record a goal, which ended up as the eventual game-winner, but apart from that, he did not really look good, and it brought down the rest of his line.
Carter was dead last on the team with a 25.24 xG%, as his abysmal defensive play to go with his irrelevancy in the offensive zone have brought down his metrics. It really is disappointing, as I had him and his line pegged as X-Factors for the Penguins, but they just haven’t done well so far. However, I expect this to change soon based on what we saw in the regular season.
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As I said, Carter’s play has brought down his linemates’ play as well, as Jared McCann and Kasperi Kapanen were pretty invisible in Game 2. They just can’t seem to get it together, and I think that they may need to get Frederick Gaudreau on that line, rather than Kapanen.
As I said, I do not expect Carter to struggle for much longer, as we saw he is very talented during the regular season, but right now is an awfully bad time to have his worst stretch as a Penguin.
Big Challenge Coming Up
We saw how the Penguins reacted with fans in the building, but how will they do in the Islanders’ home territory? How will the opposition react with their fans cheering them on? It is going to be a battle, but if Pittsburgh can take Game 3, it puts them in a great position going forward.
We will see if Evgeni Malkin is back in time, but if not, expect the same lines to be run.
PIT Penguins Writer THW. Instagram: puckempire. Formerly a Florida Panthers writer.