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It's A Bird, It's a Plane, It's Casey DeSmith!

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

It's a bird, it's a plane…it's Casey DeSmith!

The goaltender did his best superhero impression on Friday night to make an incredible highlight-reel stop - arguably the save of the season - in the second period of Pittsburgh's 6-4 win over New Jersey at Prudential Center. 

"Humongous save," Bryan Rust said. "We were on our heels a little bit in the second period, and to have a save like that is huge. He's such an athletic guy and he makes so many good saves like that."

On the play, Brian Dumoulin was going 1-on-1 with Nicholas Merkley. The Devils forward carried in, pulled up and made a pass to teammate Damon Severson, who was fresh off a change and just entering the zone. 

Rust blocked his shot in the slot, but it popped right to Jesper Boqvist at the side of the net. That meant DeSmith had to abruptly change direction and quickly push off to his left. 

He stretched his glove out, then somehow had the ability to come across with his blocker and punch the puck out of danger to keep the score tied at 2-2 and his team in the game. While DeSmith definitely looked like Superman flying through the sky, the avid disc golf player also looked like he might moonlight as a soccer goalie as well.

"He just stuck with it and kept battling," Sidney Crosby said. "Sometimes technique kind of goes out the window and it's just desperation. They were good at getting pucks to the net and they created some good zone time. So he had to make the first and sometimes second saves like that."

Video: PIT@NJD: DeSmith dives across the crease to make save

It was just one of many great saves from DeSmith throughout the course of the night, in what was quite the goalie duel between him and New Jersey's Mackenzie Blackwood for a good portion of the game.

"The score is not very indicative of the goaltending," Rust said. "Both guys made some really nice saves. You've got to give credit to both of them. Both goalies played really well, and I think that was a difference. Casey made one or two extra saves for us."

Rust's comment about the score is especially true, considering that two of the pucks that got past DeSmith deflected in off of his own teammates. 

"I thought Case was terrific," Sullivan said. "He made some real big saves for us, some real high-quality saves, especially in the second period. I thought he had a real solid night. He was the victim of some fluky goals off (Kris Letang's) skate or from below the goal line. But most of the night, I thought he was terrific."

The Penguins have gotten some phenomenal bounce-back performances from both of their netminders after that tough two-game stretch on Saturday in Boston and Tuesday in New York, where the team gave up 15 total goals in a pair of losses. 

The Penguins were adamant that they needed to do a better job in front of their goalies; that they were hanging them out to dry with the quality of chances given up. 

"I mean, that's on us," Crosby said the other day. "I don't think as players we're worried about who's in that net. They've done a great job for us all year long and I think we've got to do a better job in front of them. So that's how we look at it."

That being said, it's never a good feeling to see the red light go off that often, so the guys worked hard with goalie coach Mike Buckley to reset and refocus.

Jarry responded with with a strong performance in Thursday's 5-2 win over the Rangers, making 22 saves - including a penalty shot stop on Chris Kreider. Tonight, DeSmith did the same, making 25 stops and earning the player of the game helmet for his efforts.

"When you get that timely save, I think it boosts the confidence of the group in front of them," Sullivan said. "And for me, that's what Tristan has done for us for most of this year. Casey's done the same. These guys have been a big part of backstopping the success that this team has enjoyed to this point."

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