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Jarry, offense shine in 5-1 win over Buffalo

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Tristan Jarry stopped 32 shots, while Patric Hornqvist and Evgeni Malkin fueled the offense in Pittsburgh's dominating win at PPG Paints Arena Saturday night.

It couldn’t get any colder in Buffalo these days.

Sabres fans can thank Tristan Jarry for this weekend’s bitter forecast, as the rookie pieced together a second straight outstanding campaign in Pittsburgh’s (15-10-3) 5-1 win over visiting Buffalo (6-17-4.)

Jarry, who starred in his first-ever NHL back-to-back, laid waste to the shot selection of the Sabres—who the Pens faced on consecutive nights—stopping 32 shots, while coming off his first NHL shutout, in which the 22-year-old slammed the door on all 34 pucks he faced in Buffalo in the Pens' 4-0 win Friday.

“I was excited with the challenge,” said Jarry, who completed just his seventh-career game at backstop Saturday. 

“I think that helps me grow my confidence, that they’re able to put me in a back-to-back situation,” continued the goalie on gaining the trust of the coaching staff to earn the back-to-back nod.  “It’s not something that happens too often, at the NHL level, and they wanted to see if I could do it, and I was up to the challenge.”

“I wasn’t hesitant at all,” said Mike Sullivan of starting Jarry tonight.  “I think it’s a great opportunity for Tristan—while Matt [Murray’s] recovering—to get in the net, and to give this chance to win by making the timely saves that he makes for us.  I think everyone can see the talent level that exists.  I think this is a great opportunity for his own personal development.  We have high expectations of him.”

Jarry was provided plenty of support on the offensive side, as five different Penguins found the back of the net, including Evgeni Malkin’s eighth goal of the season, on a streaking hot shot in transition over the blocker of goalie Chad Johnson with 1:16 left in the first period, which opened the scoring.

“The last five back-to-back games, we did not play great,” eluded Malkin about the first back-to-back win for the Pens this season (1-5).  “We just played smart.  It’s not easy, but we got goal after goal.  We played very well, but I know we can play better.”

Sabres’ backup goalie Johnson, who was faced with 28 shots on the night, giving up four goals, watched a bevy of self-inflicted wounds by his blue line, including a Carl Hagelin (2) goal with just over five minutes left in the second period, in which the forward freely worked the length of the crease, lifting the puck over the diving netminder to slap the net for a 2-0 lead.

“I looked like a goal-scorer right there,” said Hagelin of the methodical finish.  “I kept my patience.  I kept skating around the net and then it was pretty easy work.”

Giving up eight penalties, including a high-sticking on Benoit Pouliet that resulted in a Patric Hornqvist man-advantage goal with just a minute expired in the second period, the Penguins, who are second in the league in minor penalty minutes, showed tangible evidence of flipping the script on a usually tidy Sabres squad.

“I think we had to capitalize on our power plays, and it’s been going well,” said Jake Guentzel, who finished with an assist on Malkin’s goal.  “We just have to take advantage and capitalize off [other] team’s mistakes.”

A patented Phil Kessel transition wrister from the face off circle, which beat Johnson glove side with just over six minutes left in the game, and a Sidney Crosby empty netter with 1:02 on the clock closed the high-powered scoring column for the Pens, who hung a combined 9-1 score on Buffalo in the back-to-back mini series sweep.

“I don’t think there is any special formula,” said Crosby about the Penguins’ hot offensive streak.  “You go that hard, you get pucks to the net and all of those habits and same things, and you just make sure you find a way to execute.  I think our mindset’s been to probably get more pucks and more people to the net, and we’ve done that.  Sometimes it goes in, and sometimes it doesn’t.  For us, lately, it has been, so we have to continue to do that.”

After the moneyline

The Penguins came in as the heaviest chalk of the night at -245, while even spreading -115 juice on the -1.5 puck line. 

The total, which was set at six goals pushed, marking the first time in four games that the over failed to come in.

Up next

After the first leg of a season-high five-game homestand, the Penguins will host the New York Rangers Tuesday night.  Puck drops at 7:30.

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