Sullivan explains why he went back to Tristan Jarry in net

Calls now Rangers D Jack Johnson was a ‘great teammate’
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PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – After a pair of extra time wins with Casey DeSmith in net, the Pens will go back to Tristan Jarry as the starter against the Rangers at home tonight.

“He’s had a couple of real good practices,” said head coach Mike Sullivan.  “He’s a real good goalie.  We believe in him.  We know he’s a very capable goalie.  He had an opportunity to have a couple of real good practices and just get his mindset where it needs to be and be ready to stop the puck.”

Jarry gave up 6 goals on 27 shots in the opener at Philadelphia and then was pulled in the second game against the Flyers after giving up 3 goals on 6 shots.

Jarry’s last win was February 18.

Optional skate

The Pens held an optional skate and Sullivan was typically non-committal about his lineup but yesterday during a full practice.  It looked like this.

Forwards
Guentzel-Crosby-Kapanen
Zucker-Malkin-Rust
McCann-Jankowski-Tanev
O’Connor/Rodrigues-Blueger-Sceviour

Defense
Dumoulin-Letang
Marino-Ceci
Joseph-Czuczman

*Chad Ruhwedel missed practice yesterday due to the birth of his son.  Rudwedel is expected back so its either the 21-year-old Joseph making his NHL debut or the 30-year-old Czuczman playing his first NHL game since 2014.

Jack Johnson in the building

From the minute the then 31-year-old defenseman signed with the Pens, there were a group of fans that disliked Jack Johnson.  Probably as much for getting a 5-year contract worth $16.25 million than anything else.  He would get off to a rocky start and would never get a fair shake, even though he game did improve.

After last season, Johnson was released and returns to Pittsburgh for the first time since signing with New York.

“I had a very good relationship with Jack,” Sullivan said Friday morning.  “He’s a great pro.  He’s a great teammate.  He has great leadership skills.  Jack focuses on those things that he can control.  He understands the business and the spotlight that we are all under.  The criticism that we all fall under.  It’s part of what we sign up for and he understands that.”

“What I always admired about Jack is his professional approach.  He’s a real good pro.  He worked extremely hard when he was here.  He tried to do everything within his power to help the Penguins win.  He was a great leader in our room.  I know his teammates had a lot of respect for him, as did his coaching staff.”

Johnson played 147 games in the regular season with 4 goals, 20 assists and was a minus 5.

1-2 Rangers

“They’re a real good team,” Sullivan said.  “They’re fast.  They’re explosive offensively.  They have a balanced attack.  We think they are a much improved team, not only through a personnel standpoint, but also through the experiences they went through last year.  We know how good they are.  We know how good they can be.  We’ve got to make sure we are at our best.”

Artemi Panarin and Pavel Buchnevich are the leading scorers each with 2 goals and 2 assists.  Number one overall pick Alexis Lafreniere has yet to score.