If this is Tristan Jarry’s best, the Penguins are finished

Tristan Jarry #35 of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)
Tristan Jarry #35 of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images) /

When I watched Josh Bailey chip a soft wrist shot up over Tristan Jarry’s glove hand, I couldn’t even be mad. I couldn’t muster the words to describe how I felt. My brother, sitting hunched over on the couch across the room, couldn’t either… for a few long seconds.

As the New York Islanders swarmed Bailey in celebration along the boards, I still couldn’t find the words to say anything. The only sounds in my living room were the loud exclamations from Bob Errey and Steve Mears and the muffled shouts and cheers of the Isles’ team mobbing Bailey along the boards. My brother — rather explicitly — let his feelings be known finally, but I just didn’t have the words.

What do you say? What can you say? It’s a nightmare.

Jarry didn’t play an awful game. He did commit an unforgivable error in a crucial game though — the now-second most important game of the Penguins’ season. And after his performance in Game 1, two losses can be largely attributed to Jarry’s performances.

If DeSmith were healthy, Jarry wouldn’t see the ice for the remainder of the series. With DeSmith still not on the practicing though, and career AHL goaltender Maxime Legace the backup, Jarry will play Game 6. And, unfortunately for the young netminder, it could be a defining game for his Penguins’ legacy.

Of course, Jarry wasn’t completely to blame for the Penguins’ loss. He did make some crucial saves over the course of the contest — an overtime stop on a streaking Jordan Eberle stands out immediately — but his misplayed puck at the start of the second overtime will completely eliminate any mention of that.

As it should. Jarry’s miscue was costly, demoralizing and backbreaking. When Jarry sent an errant puck directly down the center of the ice, the Penguins’ chances of winning this series shrunk exponentially. Bailey’s stroll down the lane, firing the game-winner past Jarry, made sure of that.

With Game 6 Wednesday at Nassau Coliseum, you can bet high sums of money that the Islanders faithful will be loud. “JARRY! JARRY! JARRY!” will rain down from the rafters at deafening levels Wednesday, all game long.

Which Jarry will show up? Jarry of Game 2? Or Jarry of Game 5?

Staring down elimination, at the hands of the Islanders for the second time in three seasons, the Penguins are at a crossroads. This is a talented team, but Monday night’s issues showcased the Penguins’ shortcomings.

Despite a 50-28 shot advantage, the Islanders outscored the Penguins. The Pens controlled play for most of the contest, yet despite a 40-14 shot advantage at a point in the third period, the Pens and Isles were tied at two.

As much as Jarry should shoulder blame for the blown lead, the Pens’ offense has to do better. I get that Ilya Sorokin was outstanding in net for the Isles, stopping 48 Pens’ shots, but the Pens must figure out a way to unlock the Russian rookie.

A power play goal, a perfect penalty kill, an overwhelming offensive chance advantage and an overall solid game from the Penguins in a crucial contest were squandered. Now the Pens have given up the home ice advantage for the second time this series.

The Penguins did a lot of things right in Game 5, but it all means nothing now. The Pens stare down elimination in the first round for the third straight season. With the skill and expectations of this team, that is unacceptable.

Jarry is a talented goaltender who has battled this season. His playoff efforts have not been ideal — to put it kindly — and he needs to be better. If this is what Jarry has to offer, even if the Penguins can escape with this level of play, the thoughts of advancing deeper into June are gone. Jarry is the most crucial piece of the puzzle for the Pens.

Unless the Penguins dig deep Wednesday night, it’ll be another disappointing end to the Pens’ season. Perhaps the last of this era. It falls on Jarry and the Pens to rewrite the narrative now.