Sidney Crosby, Tristan Jarry carry Penguins past lowly Sabres
Sidney Crosby's scoring slump is dead and buried. Evgeni Malkin is back in the lineup.
Tom Kuhnhackl erased the zero next to his name in the goal column. Tristan Jarry manned the nets with nary a hiccup in his first game as starter since Matt Murray went down with a lower-body injury.
Maybe all the Penguins needed to shake them out of their early-season inconsistency was a trip to Buffalo.
Kuhnhackl converted a first-period penalty shot, Crosby scored for the fifth time in the last five games and Jarry made 34 saves to record his first career shutout, leading the Penguins to a 4-0 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night.
The Penguins have won three in a row for just the second time this season. The Sabres have been shut out in three consecutive games for the first time in franchise history.
The teams meet again Saturday night at PPG Paints Arena as the Penguins look to build some midseason momentum when they start a five-game homestand.
“We probably weren't that happy with some of the games and how they went, some of the lopsided scores and the way we played,” Crosby said. “Given the position we're in now, being at home and trying to build off the way we've been playing the last few games, it's a great opportunity for us.”
Kuhnhackl's successful penalty shot over goalie Robin Lehner's glove was perhaps the game's most surprising moment. It came after he blocked a Victor Antipin shot and was hooked on the ensuing breakaway less than five minutes into the first period.
Kuhnhackl gave a credit to Malkin, who returned to the lineup after missing four games with an upper-body injury.
“It was kind of funny. After they called the penalty shot, I skated to the bench,” Kuhnhackl said. “Geno was saying, ‘Kuny, Kuny, shoot high glove.' In the end, I'm just I'm glad I listened to him. I guess he knows what he's talking about, right?”
The Crosby goal that followed less than four minutes later was far less surprising.
He picked off a terrible clearing attempt by Buffalo's Rasmus Ristolainen in the high slot and ripped a shot past Lehner's glove.
Crosby has 11 points in his last five games.
“That's the guy that has led this team to two Stanley Cups back-to-back,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “We've seen Sid's game coming here for three or four weeks now. Now the puck's starting to go in the net for him.”
The two-goal lead was more than enough cushion for Jarry, who played brilliantly four days after Murray went down with an injury that will keep him sidelined for two or three weeks.
Jarry was at his finest in preventing the Sabres from making a comeback in the second period. Most notably, with less than six minutes left in the period, he stayed with Sam Reinhart on a chance from the top of the crease, stopping a shot with his outstretched right pad.
“We worked (in practice) on those desperation saves and being able to stop maybe one or two of those if they happened in a game,” Jarry said. “I was lucky to get my foot on it.”
Recording a shutout in his sixth career start would provide a confidence boost for any young goaltender, but the 22-year-old Jarry said that's something he's not really in the market for.
He's not trying to announce to the world that he's ready to be a No. 1 goaltender. He just wants to keep improving.
“I think it doesn't really change if Matt's here or not,” Jarry said. “I'm just trying to do my best and get better and better.”