Matt Murray will reclaim the starting goaltender job for the Pittsburgh Penguins for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators.
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan announced that Murray, who’s only appearance this postseason was coming in relief of Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 3, will be between the pipes as Pittsburgh tries to avoid going down 3-1 in their series against the Senators on Friday night.
The head coach refused to explain his decision publicly.
“I’m not going to elaborate on the coaches’ decision,” Sullivan said. “That’s the decision we made. We made it for Game 4. We’ll see how it goes.”
Fleury has started all 15 Penguins playoff games and posted a .927 even strength save percentage and two shutouts, including one in Game 2 against the Senators.
Murray played the final 46:57 of Game 3 and stopped 19 of 20 shots he faced. He was slated to be the Penguins’ No. 1 goalie heading into the postseason, but he suffered an injury in warm-ups prior to Game 1 of their first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. That’s when Fleury took back the reins and helped lead Pittsburgh to a second straight conference final.
“I thought he was really solid in there,” Sullivan said. “He’s had a lot of practice time in the last couple of weeks.”
Last spring, when Murray usurped the starting job in a similar fashion, Sullivan went back to Fleury for one game during their third-round matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The series was knotted at two and the Penguins were coming off a 4-3 defeat. The Lightning scored four times on 25 shots and moved a win away from the Stanley Cup Final with an overtime victory. Murray was back in net for Game 6 as Pittsburgh won the next two games to close out the series.
The goaltending decision for the Penguins may be the least of their concerns right now. They have three goals in three games. Their defense is battered and was porous in Game 3. And to top it all off, Sullivan added that Patric Hornqvist, Bryan Rust and Justin Schultz will not play Friday night. All three missed Wednesday’s night game.
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