The Penguins just didn't have it in their 2-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Sunday at Nassau Coliseum.
Except for Casey DeSmith.
The 29-year-old netminder was tremendous in his first start since Feb. 11, which also came against the Islanders. He got the nod after Tristan Jarry was in goal for the first game of the back-to-back set.
"I felt good,'" said DeSmith, who also dealt with a non-COVID-related illness earlier in the month that forced him to miss some time.
"I did put a lot of work in with (goalie coach Mike Buckley) here as of late. Doing some extra work, extra goalie drills, stuff like that. So the legs felt good, and mentally, it felt really good to get back in there."
DeSmith made 28 saves, many of them high-quality, as the Islanders outplayed the Penguins for most of the night - especially in the first two periods.
New York had a 9-2 edge in shots after 20 minutes and a 25-10 edge in shots after 40 minutes. The one silver lining to that was it helped DeSmith get reacclimated after a long layoff.
"It feels good to get thrown right back in a fire like that," DeSmith said. "Obviously the first two periods, they put a lot of pucks on net and had a lot of good scoring chances. Definitely was good to kind of get in it right away and get feeling comfortable again."
Though the Islanders converted two power plays in the first two periods, DeSmith mostly withstood the barrage to keep his team within striking distance to get back into it. And while they did have some pushback in the third, outshooting the Islanders by a big margin at one point, they just couldn't find a way to get a goal.
"Casey played great," defenseman John Marino said. "He definitely kept us in it the whole game. To have that poise to come in after missing a couple of games and be a factor for us, that's huge."
DeSmith had carried the load early in the season as Jarry was still finding his game. And he made the most of the opportunity, posting a 4-1-0 record in five starts with a 2.84 goals against-average.
As the Penguins head into a tough stretch with the calendar turning to March - they'll be playing 16 games in 31 days due to COVID-related postponements - knowing they have a solid netminder like DeSmith to help Jarry during this slatee is huge.
"I think our goalies are among some of the best duos in the league," Marino said.