Tristan Jarry’s shaky start appears to be behind him. Mike Matheson’s, too. The Pittsburgh Penguins as a whole appear to be following suit.
Jarry stopped 31 shots, Matheson set up a goal with a spectacular give-and-go to himself and the Penguins led all the way in a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.
The win was the first this season in which the Penguins led wire-to-wire and just the third that didn’t require overtime or a shootout. Having Jarry starting to show signs of the form that made him a surprise All-Star a year ago certainly helped. So did having Matheson flash some of the skill that made the Penguins acquire him from Florida last fall.
Matheson gave Teddy Blueger an easy tap-in goal late in the second period that made it 2-0 when he intentionally shot the puck off the end boards from the point, avoided a check, pounced on the long rebound and tried to stuff it past New York’s Semyon Varlamov. The puck trickled to the other side of the net, where Blueger was sitting all by himself.
The Islanders never recovered as their three-game winning streak came to an end.
“I think tonight was a real solid effort for our whole team for the whole 60 minutes,” Matheson said. “I think it’s a sign of things to come.”
Sidney Crosby, Jason Zucker and Bryan Rust also scored for the Penguins, who bounced back from a loss to Washington on Tuesday with perhaps their most complete performance of the season.
“We’re looking to try and gain some traction here and more consistent results and more consistent performance night in and night out,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “I thought tonight was a pretty solid effort throughout the course of our lineup.”
Varlamov finished with 31 saves for the Islanders and Brock Nelson scored late to avoid the shutout, but New York spent much of the second half of the game fruitlessly chasing the Penguins.
“We didn’t have enough push,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “They backed it up pretty good. They did a good job of keeping everybody back. So we can be better. We can be better. Our game wasn’t a 4-1 game, in my opinion.”