Tim Benz: Tristan Jarry's bounce-back win wasn't the only important Penguins rebound in Game 2

May 19—The turnaround performance by Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry wasn't the only bounce-back storyline between Game 1 and Game 2 of the East Division first-round series.

Let's talk about Jeff Carter's, too.

I won't put Carter's rebound effort during the Penguins' 2-1 win over the New York Islanders Tuesday in the same category as Jarry's.

After all, the 26-year-old netminder went from being the goat of Game 1 in a 4-3 overtime loss to winning a tight decision in Game 2 with 37 saves.

But Carter had a rough Sunday afternoon in Game 1 as well. He was guilty of a four-minute high-stick penalty in the second period and ended the night as a minus-2 while committing three giveaways.

Certainly not the kind of effort Penguins fans have come to appreciate since he was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings before the trade deadline in April.

Carter's Game 2 wasn't exactly perfect either. Josh Bailey walked right by him in the second period for the Islanders' only goal.

That didn't erase the importance of Carter's first-period goal, though.

The Penguins got off to an energetic start. They threw a lot of bodies and pucks at Semyon Varlamov, and he looked shaky. At 3:22 of the first period, the Islanders goalie who sat out Game 1 completely fanned on a shot from beyond the top of the right circle from Bryan Rust for the first goal of the game.

A mistake that was far worse than any Jarry made on Sunday.

But 10 minutes later, the Penguins were still only up 1-0 even though it felt like they should've been up two or three goals.

That's when Carter entered the fray, scoring at the 13:07 mark to give the Penguins a two-goal lead after some fine puck-retrieval work in the offensive zone from linemates Kasperi Kapanen and Jared McCann.

"For us, anytime we do score the first goal we try to keep the pressure on and keep playing on our toes," Rust said after the game. "That's what we did and that second goal was a result. ... It was definitely nice to get that second one."

That goal was enormous and not just because it was the eventual game-winner.

It also got Carter pointed in the right direction again personally. And, perhaps most importantly, given the way that game started, if the Islanders had gotten to the intermission down just 1-0, that would've felt like a win to them. It could've been a huge boost heading into the locker room.

The Penguins needed to be up 2-0 after the first to pay off how they tilted the ice early. And, as it turns out, for the final score as well.

"It was good for our overall team confidence," coach Mike Sullivan said. "When you get a lead like that against a tough opponent like the Islanders, it gives your team some juice. We got some energy. I thought we were on our toes. We had a great start.

"When you get a couple of big goals like that, it just brings our energy to a whole other level. It was the kind of start we were looking for. Give the players a lot of credit. They were ready to play."

The pair of goals in the first period also energized a crowd of 9,344 — the largest of the season due to some relaxed coronavirus restrictions. Jarry seemed to get a spark from the energy.

"It's exciting to hear that," Jarry said. "We know how passionate our fans are, and how much they get into the game. I think that's awesome. We love to see it. We love when they are behind us like that."

Carter was also a team-best 10-5 in the faceoff circle, an area that tested the Penguins on Tuesday as the Isles won 52% of the draws. That'll be something to watch Thursday for Game 3 on Long Island as will waiting to find out which Islanders goalie is in the net.

Also — if we are being honest — which version of Jarry is in the other crease, too.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@triblive.com or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.