ShareThis Page
Penguins

Penguins notebook: Goalie Casey DeSmith solid in preseason opener

Jonathan Bombulie
| Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, 9:42 p.m.
Buffalo Sabres forward Jake McCabe (19) puts the puck past Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith (1) during the second period of an NHL preseason hockey game, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, in Buffalo N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Buffalo Sabres forward Jake McCabe (19) puts the puck past Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith (1) during the second period of an NHL preseason hockey game, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, in Buffalo N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

BUFFALO, N.Y. — When Casey DeSmith saw the lineups for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ preseason opener Tuesday night, he could have cringed.

The Penguins dressed a lineup so inexperienced that 23-year-old Jake Guentzel, 24-year-old Olli Maatta and 111-game NHL veteran Chad Ruhwedel acted as alternate captains.

The Sabres dressed a lineup that featured star center Jack Eichel, newly acquired sniper Jeff Skinner and No. 1 draft pick Rasmus Dahlin.

DeSmith was fine with it, though. He saw it as an opportunity to put his best foot forward in his training-camp battle with Tristan Jarry to serve as Matt Murray’s backup.

He largely did that in a 3-2 Penguins loss, making 26 saves to keep his team in the game throughout.

“That’s why we play hockey,” DeSmith said. “There’s always a good team on the other side, no matter who it is.”

DeSmith was especially sharp in the first period, stopping 13 of 14 shots. He thwarted Justin Bailey with a poke-check all alone in front after a turnover early and did the splits to kick away a C.J. Smith shot off a cross-ice pass later on.

Vladimir Sobotka’s goal, Buffalo’s first, came when a clearing attempt bounced in off Ruhwedel’s chest at the end of a 5-on-3 power play with 6.6 seconds left in the period. Eichel’s came on a short-handed breakaway.

“I’m really happy with how I played,” DeSmith said. “I was seeing the puck really well. I thought my rebound control was good. My reads, for the most part, were really good. A couple bad bounces there. That first one was tough.”

DeSmith said his confidence at the NHL level has increased dramatically in the past year. Last season at this time, starting the preseason opener might have left him a bundle of nerves.

“It kind of just seems like a preseason game instead of an NHL game like maybe in past years,” DeSmith said. “First crack at the NHL, it doesn’t quite feel like that anymore. Definitely no butterflies out there.”

Late surge

After struggling to get anything going in the first two periods, the Penguins rallied with a pair of goals late in the third.

Will O’Neill scored on a shot from the left point after Teddy Blueger cleanly won a faceoff and went to the net to provide a screen. Finnish free-agent addition Juuso Riikola also scored, netting a shot from the right point with Derek Grant providing traffic in front.

“I think when we got the first goal, we gained some energy from that,” Riikola said. “First two periods was a little bit like watching what happened.”

Injury report

The two players the Penguins traded to Buffalo in June — Conor Sheary and Matt Hunwick — might not suit up for the Sabres for a while.

Sheary suffered an upper-body injury in a training camp practice and is listed as week to week. Hunwick has yet to skate for the Sabres because of a neck injury. The team listed him as out indefinitely.

For the Penguins, Assistant coach Jacques Martin said Derick Brassard, who has yet to practice in camp because of illness, continues to skate on his own and could join the team Wednesday or Friday. Martin said Riley Sheahan, out with a lower-body injury, isn’t as close to returning as Brassard is.

Sullivan’s status

The funeral for George Sullivan, father of coach Mike Sullivan, is scheduled for Wednesday morning in Massachusetts. Martin said he expects the head coach will return to the Penguins soon thereafter.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me