‘It was just fun’: Backup Domingue backs Pens OT win

NEW YORK (AP) — The Pittsburgh Penguins entered the playoffs knowing they would be without starting goaltender Tristan Jarry for at least the first two games. At the end of a marathon opener against the New York Rangers, they lost backup Casey DeSmith.

Now their playoff hopes could hinge on their No. 3 goaltender – Louis Domingue, 30 – who, up to Tuesday night, had made just one playoff appearance and only played three games. in the NHL for the past two seasons. He signed with Pittsburgh — his sixth team in five years — as a free agent last September and has spent most of the season in the AHL.

Domingue was witnessing an extraordinary duel between DeSmith and Rangers goalkeeper Igor Shesterkin when DeSmith suddenly had to leave the game late in the second overtime. To be continued: Domingue, who had just had a meal of “spiced pork” between the first two additional sessions.

“I saw him go to the bench and I didn’t know why they whistled,” said Domingue. “Honestly, I thought they were joking with me – they were saying I had to come in. After that, I go out and play. It’s crazy, but I guess it’s my life. It’s hockey.

He played and more, making 17 saves to push the game into third overtime where Evgeni Malkin scored on a deflection to give the Penguins a 4-3 win.

“You never know how things are going to turn out,” Domingue said. “I wanted to be back in the NHL this year. I think I made the effort to come back. I had a few opportunities here and there. I’m pretty happy to be where I am today. I’m lucky enough to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s a hell of a team. »

And one who was waiting for word on the health of DeSmith, who had made a career-high 48 saves before leaving, appearing to favor a leg as he skated.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said DeSmith is day-to-day and will be evaluated Wednesday. He had nothing but praise for Domingue, who in his eight-year NHL career played 142 games with 126 starts, most with Arizona and Tampa Bay more than four years ago.

“It’s not an easy task when you’ve been sitting on the bench for so long,” Sullivan said. “He was on the bench for a long time. He made some key saves for us straight away. I think he did a tremendous job in really difficult circumstances.

Domingue was put to the test as he had to make two saves on Adam Fox in his first 10 seconds on the ice.

“A gutshot is exactly what you need to get into a game like this,” he said. “I felt good straight away, I didn’t feel any pressure. You dream about it all your life – you play overtime in the playoffs. You think you’d be nervous in a situation like that, but it’s was just fun for me.

The DeSmith-Domingue combo survived a stellar effort from Shesterkin, who finished with 79 saves — the second-highest playoff total in NHL history.

Both Pittsburgh goalies were applauded in the locker room after the game. Malkin, who also got an assist, said he wasn’t concerned about Domingo when he entered the game.

“I know Louis is amazing,” Malkin said. “He’s big, he’s fast. I’m not nervous, it’s hard to score on Louis in training. … He immediately saved a few times and I feel like everything is going well.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Thursday night in New York before moving to Pittsburgh for two games.

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Follow Vin Cherwoo at http://www.twitter.com/VinCherwooAP

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