The Pittsburgh Penguins are breathing a sigh of relief ahead of their Sunday road game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Pittsburgh avoided what would have been its first four-game regulation losing streak in nearly two years by earning a 1-0 home win over the New York Rangers on Saturday. Tristan Jarry registered a 27-save shutout.
The Penguins moved back into second place in the Metropolitan Division, two days after the Rangers leapfrogged them.
While the Blue Jackets are also a Metropolitan foe, they sit 10 points out of a playoff spot. The Rangers and Blue Jackets each have two games in hand on the Penguins, while the first-place Carolina Hurricanes have played three fewer games than Pittsburgh.
"We look at the standings just as much as the games we have to play," Jarry told ABC. "I think that's something that really matters to us. We want to try to pick up points wherever we can and try and get wins. Those teams that have games in hand, we want to keep playing well, and hopefully they don't catch us."
Although he is coming off a shutout, which came on the heels of getting pulled for the first time this season, Jarry is likely to give way to backup Casey DeSmith on Sunday.
The Penguins as a whole might have gotten back on track Saturday just as Jarry did.
"We hope so," Pittsburgh defenseman John Marino said. "Everyone contributed in their own way, and everyone made sacrifices."
Pittsburgh won the only meeting so far this season against the Blue Jackets -- 5-2 at Columbus on Jan. 21 -- and is 9-4-1 within the Metropolitan Division.
The Blue Jackets were flying with a four-game winning streak, including a combined 24-13 scoring advantage, before they came out flat Friday in a 4-0 road loss to Carolina.
Or maybe it was more a matter of being physically and emotionally worn out after a 6-3 road win the night before over the Florida Panthers, another of the top teams in the NHL.
"You could see it," Columbus coach Brad Larsen said. "Usually you could say we were a half step behind, but I think we were a full step behind.
"It's not a business of excuses, but I was really worried about (the Carolina game's) energy just because of how intense the game was (Thursday)."
For the Sunday game, the Blue Jackets will have had a little rest while Pittsburgh played a tense divisional game and then traveled.
The Friday defeat notwithstanding and despite having a seemingly prohibitive climb to try to get into the postseason, Columbus has seen improvement in its game, particularly in limiting opponents' scoring chances.
"We're shutting down plays," Blue Jackets winger Jakub Voracek said. "We're giving up maybe (one) shot, and the second, third opportunity isn't there. When we struggled a couple months ago, that was the key for us. We gave up one chance, and it was like a snowball (effect) after it."
Also in the loss Friday, Columbus winger Patrik Laine had his 11-game point streak snapped after he amassed 13 goals and eight assists.
--Field Level Media