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Jarry stops 27 shots, Penguins edge Saros, Predators 2-0

The Pittsburgh Penguins' Jason Zucker (16) celebrates his goal during the second period of Thursday night’s game against the Nashville Predators in Pittsburgh. Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — Tristan Jarry turned away 27 shots to outduel Juuse Saros and the Pittsburgh Penguins edged Nashville 2-0 on Thursday night.

Jason Zucker scored his 26th goal in the second period to give Jarry all the help he would need while earning his 13th career shutout. Jake Guentzel provided some breathing room with a power-play goal in the later stages of the third period.

Pittsburgh held on to the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with the victory. The Penguins are one point ahead of Florida, which won in Montreal on Thursday. Pittsburgh has seven games remaining, while the Panthers have six.

Jarry, who has been erratic when he hasn't been injured for most of the last three months, played perhaps his best game since late January. The two-time All-Star was steady in his 200th NHL appearance. He made a series of pivotal stops, including turning aside Nashville's Philip Tomasino on a breakaway early in the third period with the Penguins still nursing a one-goal lead.

The injury-ravaged Predators, missing forward Filip Forsberg, captain Roman Josi and center Matt Duchene among others, pulled off a stunner in Boston on Tuesday, edging the NHL-best Bruins thanks in large part to the spectacular play of Saros.

Saros was perhaps even sharper against the Penguins. He stopped 43 shots and single-handedly kept the Predators in it during a game in which Pittsburgh controlled play for long stretches.

Saros has been one of the reasons Nashville remains in the mix for the final playoff berth in the Western Conference even after a sell-off at the trade deadline. The Predators are stockpiling picks gearing for the future.

It's not that way in Pittsburgh, which is still trying to prop the Stanley Cup window open a little longer for Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. The core of a franchise that has reached the postseason 16 straight years has mostly been its usual selves. Their team's biggest issue has been depth and goaltending.

Jarry, who'll be a free agent this summer, has brushed off concerns about his health. Earlier this week, he curtly pointed out that he has been hurt just three times since becoming an NHL regular four years ago, though all three instances have come in the last 12 months.

He certainly looked fine against the Predators. Jarry matched Saros stop for stop early while the teams exchanged scoring chances before things settled down and Pittsburgh took firm control.

Zucker, Pittsburgh's most consistently emotionally engaged player this season, finally broke through in the later stages of the second period, though his 26th goal was also among his easiest.

Instead, it was the unlikely hands of defenseman Brian Dumoulin who did most of the work. Not exactly known for his offensive ability, Dumoulin sprinted down the slot and took a pass from Evgeni Malkin before dangling the puck around a sliding Predator and slipping a pass to Zucker at the doorstep. Zucker tapped it in to give the Penguins the lead.

Pittsburgh has struggled at times of late when ahead in the third period. Not this time. Jarry's stop on Tomasino marked the last legitimate threat by the Predators and when Guentzel redirected a nice pass from Letang by Saros with 6:57 remaining, the Penguins were on their way to preserving their slim advantage in the wild-card race.


Predators: Welcome St. Louis to Bridgestone Arena on Saturday.

Penguins: Host the NHL-leading Boston Bruins on Saturday.

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