|With Tuesday's 2-1 win in Buffalo, Ty Conklin now has a .500 record in outdoor games.
“Thank God, I got it back to .500,” the Pittsburgh Penguins goalie said with a chuckle.
Conklin last took to the outdoor ice Nov. 22, 2003, at the Heritage Classic, played at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.
Starting for the Oilers that day, he allowed four goals on 27 shots in a 4-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
At the AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic Tuesday, he was far better, stopping 36 of 37 shots, including seven each in the third period and in overtime, when the Pens had to kill off a two-minute penalty to Colby Armstrong called at the horn ending regulation.
“A lot of time your goalie has to be your biggest penalty killer and get the stops,” said Sidney Crosby.
Those are the kind of stops he didn’t make the last time he played outside. The cold that day in Edmonton made it hard to move as his pads literally started to freeze.
“I can’t speak for everybody else, because I’m sure there were guys that felt great, but I was cold,” said Conklin. “The whole experience in Edmonton was awesome, just like today, for everybody was awesome. There wasn’t one time I was really cold (Tuesday). A few chills once in a while, but that’s about it.”
“Feels a lot better after a win than it does a loss,” he added of surviving another day in the cold.
Conklin now has started all four games on the Pens’ current win streak.
“He’s playing very well and we’ve had success,” said Penguins coach Michel Therrien. “Certainly he’s playing at a level that gives us a chance to win, and he makes some key saves at the right time during the game. He made some key saves in overtime where we have to kill the penalty, so he’s a big part of it.”
He also had a bit of an incentive playing against the Sabres and Ryan Miller, who Conklin backed up last season before signing as a free agent with the Penguins this summer. In five games with the Sabres, he went 1-2 with a 3.44 goals-against average and .892 save percentage.
“Ty was great for us,” said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. “He’s a great guy. I’m happy for him. I’m not happy about what he did to us the last couple games, but I’m not surprised because he had a history of playing some good hockey. And I think he had added incentive.”
“I hope it adds to our team’s confidence level,” Conklin said of his run of good play, which includes a personal five-game win streak since getting recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton following an injury to starter Marc-Andre Fleury. Conklin has allowed just 10 goals in the five starts, and Saturday night posted a 26-save shutout at Mellon Arena in the first game of the home-and-home series with the Sabres to give him a 4-0 record with a 2.71 GAA and .917 save percentage at the time.
“He’s done an amazing job since he’s got in there,” said Crosby. “We certainly feel comfortable with him in there.”
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com.