Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry left the ice, pulled from a game for the first time this season. The New Jersey Devils had taken 19 shots against him in just over 33 minutes on Thursday night, and five pucks had flown into the back of the net.
It was the fifth time in seven games in which he had given up four goals or more. But the Penguins were quick to defend him.
"We gave up chances that you can't afford to give up consistently. We didn't give him a lot of help," said captain Sidney Crosby.
"The first couple of goals, if Tristan did make the save, they'd be great saves. You can take that for what it's worth," said coach Mike Sullivan, who pulled Jarry. "It's a tough one for me to evaluate. I just thought at the time our team needed a change. It wasn't necessarily because I thought he was playing poorly."
It was just a regular-season game, in an otherwise strong regular season for Jarry. But it was hard not to hear the echoes from the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when the Penguins went out in six games to the New York Islanders. Pittsburgh's players and coaches had his back then, too, after Jarry finished with an .888 save percentage and gave up 16 goals in the final four games of that series.
"You win games as a team, you lose games as a team. It's not any one position. It's not any one person's fault," said Sullivan after Game 6.
But Jarry felt those losses. He took them personally. Friends, family and peers knew he needed support.
"I had old goalies reach out to me. New goalies. Just having staff [reach out], family and friends. It takes a whole village to help you through stuff like that. And it picks you up and helps you where you need to be better," Jarry told ESPN recently. "I was able to get over it. I was able to be better from it."
That Devils game wasn't indicative of Jarry's season; he's been outstanding. Jarry is 25-11-6 in 42 appearances. According to Hockey Reference, 60% of his 40 starts have been quality starts. He has a .919 save percentage and a 2.38 goals-against average, both of which are improvements over last season. He's sixth in goals saved above average (18.9) and has added over three wins to the Penguins, according to Evolving Hockey. He has three shutouts.
But, again, that's the regular season. What about the playoffs? Are the Penguins confident that they'll get the goalie they've seen for most of the regular season when the postseason arrives?
"You have to ask yourself what I did wrong, but also what didn't I do wrong?" GM Ron Hextall, a former NHL netminder, told ESPN. "You learn from it. And then you gotta flush it."