Here's a few takeaways from Pittsburgh's 2-0 win over Columbus on Sunday at Nationwide Arena…
- The Pens haven't allowed a goal in three straight games. I don't care if it's the preseason; that's impressive. A lot of the credit obviously goes to the netminders, especially with the different lineups in front of them, players getting used to both each other and the systems and everybody getting back into game shape.
"I think we've gotten good goaltending, first and foremost, from our goalies," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "They're making timely saves for us. And I think as a coaching staff, some of the concepts that we're trying to implement, we can start to see them in the games now which is encouraging from our standpoint. We still haven't done a whole lot of work on the power play or things like that, but I think our play away from the puck is starting to get a little bit better on some of the details."
- Tristan Jarry has pitched a shutout in both of his preseason appearances, making 23 stops in today's game. He's been fantastic. The 21-year-old second-year pro was the leading candidate for the backup job behind Marc-Andre Fleury to start the season, and he couldn't be making a stronger case for himself with his play. Not only is he keeping the puck out of the net; he's looking great while doing it. He's just so quick and athletic and as head coach Mike Sullivan keeps pointing out, his puck handling is terrific. Jarry was especially strong during a lengthy shorthanded sequence in the second period, sliding across his crease to rob Oliver Bjorkstrand of what looked like a sure goal.
"I thought Tristan had another really strong game," Sullivan said. "We'll watch the whole camp before we make any sort of decisions, certainly we're encouraged by Tristan's play. We know how good a goalie he is. As I said, I had him last year for a period of time. He has the ability to be a real solid goalie. What you've seen the last couple of games. I think the most important thing for a young player like Tristan is just the consistency of play. Just bringing it every day. That's something him and I have had conversations about. I know he's had conversations with (Mike Bales) and Mike Buckley. That, I think, is an important aspect of his game. We're certainly very encouraged with how he's played the last couple games."
- The Pens' penalty kill was strong today. The Pens spent a lot of time in the box, 10 minutes to be exact. About four of those were spent down two men, whether it was 5-on-3 or 6-on-4. Despite that, they continued to get the job done all afternoon. It helps that Jarry was their best penalty killer, but the guys in front of him did everything they had to do to get clears. Nick Bonino maybe did a little too much in that regard, blocking a shot on the 5-on-3. Thankfully, he was okay.
"It's good to get some reps," he said. "I know as the preseason goes on and we get our lineup back, we'll probably get with our normal units. Never fun to block one like I did early, I think Sully knew, maybe shut me down a little there at the end. Got to stop blocking shots in the preseason."
- Even though this was his first preseason game and he was slightly slowed by an injury sustained blocking a shot during training camp last Sunday, Nick Bonino looks to be in regular season form. He told me even with the short summer, he had really good workouts and felt a little bit quicker and stronger. And he looks great. It always takes a little while to get the legs back, but I think what stood out the most is his vision and playmaking ability he's so known for. He set up Tom Kuhnhackl for the Pens' second goal with a gorgeous diagonal cross-slot pass.
"I thought I got better as the game went on," Bonino told me. "First period just a little bit sloppy, it's tough when you haven't been hit like that and you're getting up to speed and trying to get the timing back. Had a good line tonight, they played really well. And we got a win, so it's always fun to win in the preseason."
- Speaking of Kuhnhackl, he looked pretty good filling in for Phil Kessel as the "K" on Bonino's wing. He had a complete game, as not only did he chip in offensively, he saw a decent amount of time on the penalty kill and looked strong defensively.
"I think it's just nice in preseason here when you get more ice time and you get put out in different situations," he told me. "Playing on the top line with Bonino and 'Willy' (Scott Wilson), obviously that's nice so I'm trying to make a couple more plays and I think the whole team played a pretty good game today."