TORONTO – Mathieu Garon wasn’t the answer in goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
At least not in his first game with the team. Garon, obtained in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers on Jan. 16, surrendered five goals on 26 shots against the host Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night as the Penguins suffered their third loss in four games. It was Garon’s first start since arriving to back up Penguins No. 1 Marc-Andre Fleury.
“I’ve just been here a couple weeks and from what I’ve seen, sometimes we might get a little mistake-prone,” said Garon, whose record fell to 6-9-0 with the loss. “And that costs us goals, and sometimes we’re not really sharp for 60 minutes.”
The Pens have been looking for answers since losing 14 of 20 games from early December through mid-January. After starting out the season with an impressive 15-6-4 record, Pittsburgh’s lengthy losing skid saw the team sink in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Penguins, the East’s representative in the Stanley Cup final last season, currently is out of the playoffs, two points behind eighth-place Carolina.
Garon, 31, a native of Chandler, Que., made his NHL debut with Montreal in 2000-01. He was traded to the Los Angeles Kings prior to the 2005-06 season, and then moved on to Edmonton in 2007. Garon appeared to come into his own last season with the Oilers, taking over the No. 1 job from Dwayne Roloson and compiling a 26-18-1 record with a 2.66 goals-against average and .913 save percentage.
But he faltered this season and the Oilers decided to go with a reinvigorated Roloson and rookie Jeff Drouin-DesLauriers. Pittsburgh sent goaltender Dany Sabourin, minor-league winger Ryan Stone and a fourth-round draft pick in 2011 to Edmonton in exchange for Garon.
And while Garon is new to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin’s team, he already knows what those players mean to the Penguins and what the rest of the Penguins have to do to help out.
“We really run on those guys, but we need everyone going to be successful,” Garon said.