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Something to Prove

Coming into this season, Tristan Jarry wanted to show he had a good summer and was ready to have a statement year

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

One goal against in three games, with an assist to top it off. That was Tristan Jarry's terrific body of work during Pittsburgh's perfect road trip through Canada. 

The netminder collected back-to-back shutouts against Montreal on Thursday and Toronto on Saturday, with his streak coming to an end at 161:33 minutes during the first period of Monday's matchup with Winnipeg. It is now the longest shutout streak in the NHL this season.

Jarry went on to backstop the Penguins to a 3-1 victory over the Jets, and turned aside 80 of the 81 total shots he faced north of the border. 

"This trip, I think, was huge for him," winger Jason Zucker said. "I think he's done a great job. He's been working his tail off and playing really, really well for us."

Jarry's game has been growing with each one that he plays - and he's playing a lot of them. Last night's game against the Jets marked his fifth straight start, and 10th in the past 11. He's been between the pipes for all but three of Pittsburgh's 18 games thus far, posting a sparkling 2.09 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.

"I'm enjoying it. It's making me better," Jarry said. "I think just as I get to play more, I'm feeling the game a lot better. And I think it's making me a better goalie, being able to go night in and night out and just focusing on my game, doing everything I can."

That mindset of staying in the moment is what stands out the most to head coach Mike Sullivan about Jarry's play, and one that was absolutely crucial for the 26-year-old as he looked to turn the page on the disappointing finish to his first season as the Penguins' starter.

"That's really the conversation I had with him a lot is, control those things that are within your own power," Sullivan said. "Don't get overwhelmed by any sort of noise around the group. Let's learn through each experience. Let's not dwell on each experience. And so, I think he's doing a terrific job in just trying to make that next save and go from there. He's making timely saves for us that's given our team an opportunity to win games."

Both Sullivan and Penguins general manager Ron Hextall repeatedly expressed their confidence in Jarry following the 2020-21 campaign, where he learned some hard lessons in Games 5 and 6 of the First Round against the New York Islanders. Their shows of support, particularly from Hextall, a former NHL goalie himself, were especially motivating for Jarry.

"Hexy and I had a lot of conversations over the summer, and I think that was something that motivated me," Jarry said. "That was something that I thought was a sign of relief, just that I knew I'd be coming back. And I think it was something that I wanted to prove to them that they weren't making a mistake."

And Jarry put in the hard work to make that happen, really pushing himself to try and improve on certain aspects of his game. Like coming in and having a stronger start than he did last year, where he took a couple of games to regroup after giving up nine goals in his first four-plus periods of action.

He did so with the help of new goaltending coach Andy Chiodo, who was promoted to the position during the offseason and flew out to visit Jarry in his native western Canada before the year began.

"I think that's where we started connecting. It wasn't in training camp. It wasn't early in the season. It was in the summer when we started to work," Jarry said. "It's something that got my game where I needed to be coming to Pittsburgh, not when I arrived. So I think that was something that helped me a lot, and he's someone that's helped my game a lot."

It's resulted in Jarry playing with plenty of confidence and composure, while reacting to adversity the right way. Whether it's finally breaking through for a shootout win after some tough luck in those situations, or responding with a shutout after giving up six goals to rival Washington, Jarry hasn't let himself get too high or too low.

"He's just steady. That's the biggest thing," captain Sidney Crosby said. "Not only is that great when you're making the saves, but the way it looks, too, he looks pretty calm in there. So that's huge."

Like his general manager and head coach, Jarry's teammates have also been adamant that they have trust in their netminder.

"We have all the confidence in the world in him," winger Jake Guentzel said. "We knew that over the summer, he was going to take himself and the training very seriously and come back and want to have a statement year," Zucker added.

And they all have belief that he's capable of doing great things.

"I just think he's a guy that has so much upside and so much potential," Sullivan said. "When he's on his game, he's as good as the top goaltenders in the league. So it's more about trying to manage his own mindset, and just staying in the moment, and not getting overwhelmed by any sort of circumstances that come his way."

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