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Jarry improves upon perfection

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

Goaltender Tristan Jarry was untying the string around his protective pants inside the Penguins' locker room when a gaggle of media approached. He stopped, sat down and awaited their arrival. He was the man everyone wanted to talk to.

"We're back to talk with you again," one said as they approached.

"That's what happens when you save things," chimed in one of his teammates.

Jarry didn't just save things. He saved all the things. The 24-year-old netminder saved all 33 shots against him in Pittsburgh's 2-0 victory against Arizona on Friday night at PPG Paints Arena, stealing the spotlight in Phil Kessel's first game back in Pittsburgh.

"He's played extremely well," head coach Mike Sullivan said of his goalie. "Tristan has had his last handful of starts, we feel as though he's been really good. He's deserving of some of the starts that we've been giving him. That's why we chose to go with him tonight."

Jarry hasn't just been good in his last handful of games. He's been fantastic.

Jarry has now posted back-to-back shutouts Friday against Arizona and Wednesday night against the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues, stopping all 61 shots in that span, to extend his career-best shutout streak to 142:46 minutes.

Add in the fact that Jarry has surrendered two or less goals in nine of his 11 games played this season and you can understand why the coaching staff has played him in six of the past seven games.

"My mindset was just to get better every day," Jarry said. "That was my focus from the beginning of the season. Every practice was to get better and prove to myself that I could do that."

Jarry isn't just proving it to himself. He's proving it to the entire league. Jarry's goals-against average (1.81) and save percentage (.943) both ranked No. 1 in the entire National Hockey League (prior to the conclusion of Friday's slate of games).

"I think he's seeing (the puck) really well. He's tracking it," Sullivan said. "I'm sure his confidence is high because usually success breeds confidence."

Sullivan called Jarry the Penguins' best penalty killer Friday. And the unit went a perfect 5-for-5 thanks to a spectacular save from Jarry on sniper Clayton Keller. After stopping a shot from the point, the puck popped right to the stick of Keller, who appeared to have a wide-open net. Jarry instinctively kicked out his leg and knocked the puck away.

Tweet from @penguins: YOU SHALL NOT PASS. 🚫

"There was nothing I could do on the second one, but sprawl out and it hit me in the foot," Jarry said. "It was just reaction."

The crowed certainly appreciated it, giving the tender a rapturous roar of approval.

"I love Pittsburgh. I love playing here," Jarry said with a smile. "It's awesome. The fans have great support at all times. It's fun to go out there every period."

Jarry made the Penguins' roster out of training camp but only played in four games through the team's opening 19 contests. During that time, he tried he best to improve his game and wait for his number to be called. Now he's making the most of that opportunity. 

"Whenever I'm called upon, I try to be ready for it," Jarry said. "I'm just making sure I'm doing the best I can in practice and if I'm called upon, I try to be ready for it."

Lately, he's been perfect.

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