Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan has declined to proclaim Tristan Jarry as the team's No. 1 goaltender, but it wouldn't be a surprise if Jarry got another start Saturday against the visiting Los Angeles Kings at PPG Paints Arena.
Jarry, who was mostly in the American Hockey League as the third-stringer last season, made the Penguins roster out of training camp based on performance and salary-cap concerns.
Now he is playing ahead of Matt Murray, who has won two Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh.
"It's fun to play a lot, and it's fun to win," said Jarry, who has shutouts in three of his past four starts, including a 1-0 overtime win Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Jarry leads the NHL in goals-against average (1.76) and save percentage (.941) but he is quick to dish out an assist to his teammates.
"The guys are doing a great job," he said. "They're letting me see a lot of pucks, so it makes my job easy, and it's just making sure that I'm trying to do my best to get in front of it."
Pittsburgh has won four of its past five games and is 9-1-2 in its past 12 home games.
The longer the Penguins stay competitive and in a playoff spot, the more it becomes apparent they are not succumbing to a string of injuries. They have played less than one full game with a full roster.
Already without centers Sidney Crosby and Nick Bjugstad, winger Patric Hornqvist and defenseman Brian Dumoulin, Pittsburgh also was without star center Evgeni Malkin against Columbus because of illness.
"I just think it speaks volumes for the character of the guys. ... I just think the players do a terrific job of rallying around it," Sullivan said. "I can't say enough about this group. They don't look for excuses."
It seems likely that Malkin will return against Los Angeles as Pittsburgh plays its final home game before Christmas before heading out on a trip through Western Canada.
The Kings, meanwhile, are heading east. They opened a six-game road trip and a stretch of eight of nine games on the road with a 2-1 win Thursday at Anaheim, although that hardly involved the type of travel it takes to get to Pittsburgh.
Los Angeles sits last in the Western Conference, and it would be even worse without picking up 10 of its 13 wins at home. The win over the Ducks ended an 0-10-1 road streak and left the Kings 3-12-1 away from Staples Center.
"We have to take this game on the road and see what we can get," Los Angeles coach Todd McLellan said.
Collecting some points on the road might help make the Kings considerably more competitive.
"We've got to come back with a bunch of wins because we want to climb out of this last spot in our conference," defenseman Drew Doughty said. "We want to try and make a push to get up in the standings."
Like the Penguins, the Kings have a hot goalie. Jonathan Quick made 36 saves against Anaheim and has stopped 65 of 67 shots over his past two starts.
--Field Level Media