The Pens opened preseason play on Monday in Columbus and came away with a 1-0 shootout win over the Blue Jackets. Beau Bennett scored the game-deciding goal, while Jeff Zatkoff (23 saves) and Tristan Jarry (seven saves) combined for the shutout. Here are Michelle Crechiolo’s three impressions from the press box…
- The Pens got terrific goaltending in this game from both Zatkoff, who played the first two periods, and Tristan Jarry, who was in net for the third period, overtime and the shootout – where he stopped all three Columbus players he faced. The Blue Jackets carried the play in the first and had plenty of scoring chances, but Zatkoff turned aside every one and kept his team in the game. After replacing him to start the final frame, Jarry had to come up with a number of tough saves after coming in cold and was up to the task, which says a lot about the young goaltender. In front of those two, I thought the Pens defense played strong. One player in particular stood out: offensive defenseman David Warsofsky, who quarterbacked the Pens’ power-play unit and was one of the first three on the ice for the overtime period.
- David Perron was the player I was most looking forward to watching. After having a disappointing finish to the season last year, the winger had a tremendous summer of training and came to camp in excellent shape. He’s been feeling confident in himself after all the work he put in this offseason, and it showed tonight. He’s got that extra step of quickness back in his game, and as he was already such a skilled player with the puck, that makes him incredibly dangerous whenever he’s on the ice. Perron used his improved skating to spring himself behind the D numerous times throughout the game – even getting a breakaway at one point. He was handling the puck well and seemed to have it on his stick every single shift.
- Bobby Farnham stood out tonight for what he did with his skates, not his fists. The feisty forward looked like he was shot out of the infamous Nationwide Arena cannon every shift and used his speed to make plays, most notably on the forecheck – where he would get behind the D and beat them in footraces to the boards – and on the penalty kill, where he skated the puck out of danger and ended up creating a couple of shorthanded chances as a result. “The way he’s noticeable is speed and hitting,” head coach Mike Johnston said. “It’s just so evident out there. He gets on loose pucks hard, makes the other team’s defense pay a price and they know when he’s on the ice. So he played his game very effectively. If he keeps that up, I believe he knows what his trademarks are as a player. And you really like that in him, and he brings it every night. He brings almost the same thing every night, which is him pretty well saying this is what I’m going to bring you and I believe I can be part of the team.”