Jarry out at at least two games, DeSmith starts for Penguins in first round

CRANBERRY, Pa.Tristan Jarry is not expected to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins in at least the first two games of the Eastern Conference First Round against the New York Rangers.

The goalie is day to day with a lower-body injury. Casey DeSmith will likely start Game 1 of the best-of-7 series at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday (7 pm ET; ESPN, CBC, SN, TVAS, MSG, ATTSN-PT).

“We play the same way in front of every goalie,” defenseman said Kris Letang said. “They’re all terrific goalies. They’re hard workers. Every time they’ve been in games, they’ve played really well.”

Jarry, who was 34-18-6 with a 2.42 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in 58 games (56 starts) this season, has not practiced since making 36 saves in a 6-3 win against the New York Islanders on April 14.

DeSmith started five of the final six games of the regular season, winning three. He was 11-6-5 with a 2.79 GAA and .914 save percentage in 26 games (24 starts).

[RELATED: Complete Rangers vs. Penguins series coverage]

Game 1 would be DeSmith’s first start in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“I’ve had playoff experience in juniors,” DeSmith said on April 28. “Obviously, in college, played a bunch of big games in the playoffs, tournaments and stuff like that. Played in [Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League]. Had playoff experience there. So I’ve kind of had playoff experience at each and every level.

“The bottom line is nothing really changes, as far a [being a] goalie and the mindset. It’s really just another hockey game. “

Louis Dominguewho would back up on Tuesday, made 39 saves in a 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on April 24.

Six of Jarry’s seven postseason starts came last season, going 2-4 with a 3.18 GAA and .888 save percentage against the Islanders in the first round. He replaced Matt Murray for Game 4 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers, making 20 saves in a 1-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens that eliminated Pittsburgh.

The Penguins, who finished third in the Metropolitan Division, have not advanced beyond the opening round the past three postseasons. They won the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017 before losing to the Washington Capitals in the second round in 2018.

“There isn’t a more accomplished core group of players in the game than this core group that’s here right now,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “These guys are battle-tested. They’ve been through a lot. They’ve had a lot of success. But they’ve also had their disappointments.

“I think the experience that you gain through those can only help you in the challenges that you have moving forward.… I think those experiences are invaluable.”

Forward Jason Zucker is also day to day with a lower-body injury and is expected to miss at least the first two games of this series. He was injured against the Edmonton Oilers on April 25 before missing a 5-3 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday and did not practice Sunday.

Zucker scored 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in 41 games this season, including three points (two goals, one assist) in nine games after returning from a lower-body injury sustained against the Minnesota Wild on March 31. The game against Minnesota was his first back from missing the previous 30 because of a core muscle injury that required surgery Jan. 25.

Brock McGinn has replaced Zucker at third-line left wing with center Jeff Carter and right wing Kasperi Kapanen. Zucker has mostly played second-line left wing with center Evgeni Malkin when healthy.

“It’s tough to see,” he said Danton Heinen, who is currently left wing on the second line. “[Zucker] is such a great guy. He’s welcomed me so well. He’s been a guy I can go. To see him battling those injuries this year is tough. He battled back, grinded back. It’s tough. We definitely feel for him. “

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