WILKES-BARRE TWP. — The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were missing several key forwards entering Saturday’s game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, but they weren’t missing anything in the net.
Starting in back-to-back nights, Tristan Jarry stopped 34 shots — many in dramatic fashion — as the Penguins (28-12-3-1) beat the Phantoms 2-1. Jarry, who has won six straight starts and is 3-0 since being reassigned by Pittsburgh, made highlight reel saves all night.
But none was bigger than the save he made at the end of the game.
With less than 30 seconds remaining and the Penguins clinging to a 2-1 lead, the Phantoms had the extra attacker on the ice and the puck down low. Jarry made a save and the rebound slid out front to a Phantoms player at the corner, who lifted a shot only to have it snared away by Jarry’s glove at the last second.
“I saw the puck hit a stick or a skate, and I was just trying to get over there as quick as possible,” Jarry said.
It took the Penguins just 26 seconds to get on the board when Jean-Sebastien Dea raced down the ice, had plenty of room and sniped a shot between Dustin Tokarski and the post for a 1-0 lead.
The Phantoms pushed back quickly, but it was clear that Jarry was dialed in when he flashed the glove to snare a blast from Greg Carey after a defensive zone turnover.
“He had a confidence about him. He was on it,” said head coach Clark Donatelli. “It was one of his better games down here.”
Midway through the period the Phantoms put the Penguins on the power play, and Daniel Sprong made them pay.
After the Penguins set up in the Phantoms end, Ethan Prow sent a pass across ice to Sprong, who unleashed a blast that rocketed to the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
“He has a great shot. Until they start taking that away, we’re setting him up to shoot, and that’s why,” Donatelli said.
After that, the Penguins struggled to generate chances, but Jarry wasn’t giving anything up to a Phantoms team that continued to push. Jarry bailed out the Penguins on several penalty kills and stopped everything that came his way, even several deflections that required a quick adjustment.
The win was the third straight for the division-leading Penguins, and it wraps up the weekend with two victories against division rivals – Hershey and Lehigh Valley.
“It’s huge,” Jarry said of the wins. “Our division is tight from first place to the wild card. Every point is big for us.”
— D Zach Trotman (injury), F Troy Josephs, F Tom Sestito (injury), F Christian THomas (Olympics), F Tom Kostopoulos (injury), D Lukas Bengtsson (injury), F Ryan Haggerty (injury) and G Michael Leighton (injury) were scratched for the Penguins.
— Zach Aston-Reese was recalled to Pittsburgh on Saturday. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton brought up Josephs and Reid Gardiner from Wheeling.
— The Penguins are now 5-5 against the Phantoms with two more games remaining.
Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TomVenesky