Penguins switch to Murray as starting goalie
Ottawa (AFP) – Defending NHL champion Pittsburgh, two games from being ousted from the Stanley Cup playoffs, will switch goaltenders from Marc-Andre Fleury to Matt Murray for Friday’s crucial playoff game at Ottawa.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan made the announcement after the team’s workout, hoping the switch in starters will help Pittsburgh fight back from a 2-1 deficit in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.
“Matt Murray is going to play goal,” Sullivan said. “I’m not going to elaborate on the coaches’ decision. That’s the decision we made. We made it for game four. We’ll see how it goes.”
Murray had been the starter most of the season, but was injured in a pre-game warm-up before the Penguins’ first playoff game and replaced by Fleury, who backstopped Pittsburgh’s playoff series triumphs over Columbus and Washington, which had two of the NHL’s four best regular-season records.
Murray entered in relief in game three, stopping 19 of 20 shots he faced over 47 minutes in Ottawa’s 5-1 home romp on Wednesday.
“I thought he was really solid in there,” Sullivan said. “He has had a lot of practice time in the last couple of weeks.”
Fleury was pulled after surrendering four goals on nine shots and, Sullivan said, took the news in stride.
“Marc was a professional like he always is,” Sullivan said. “Both of these guys handle the decisions that we make extremely professionally. These guys are both competitors. They both want to be in the net.
“We don’t always expect them to agree with our decisions, but we hope that they respect our decision.”
Fleury manned the nets when the Penguins won the 2009 Stanley Cup but was replaced by Murray for much of last year’s run to the title.
“It’s very difficult,” Sullivan said. “It has been a hard decision for this coaching staff all year long. It’s a good, difficult decision to have because we have two guys that are as capable as they are.”
The Ottawa-Pittsburgh winner will face either Nashville or Anaheim in the Stanley Cup Finals.