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Murray gets Game 5 start for Penguins; injured players game-time decisions

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PITTSBURGH — In what should be no surprise following his performance in Game 4 on Friday night, Matt Murray will be back in the starting lineup for the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday afternoon when they return home to face the Ottawa Senators, coach Mike Sullivan announced before the game.

Murray, who backstopped the Penguins to the Stanley Cup a year ago, opened the 2017 playoffs with an injury setting the stage for Marc-Andre Fleury to regain his starting job and carry the Penguins through the first two rounds. Even when Murray was healthy Fleury was playing far too well to be removed from the lineup. That changed in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals when Fleury gave up four goals in the first period and was replaced by Murray.

Murray went on to stop 19 of the 20 shots he faced that night, then stopped 24 out of 26 on Friday night.

In other lineup news for the Penguins, Sullivan also announced that forward Tom Kuhnhackl and defenseman Chad Ruhwedel will be out of the lineup due to injury. Ruhwedel suffered a concussion on Friday night following a hit by Bobby Ryan.

Patric Hornqvist, Bryan Rust and Justin Schultz will all be game-time decisions.

All three players have missed the past two games for the Penguins. While they would like to have any of them back in the lineup, Schultz’s absence is the one they are probably feeling the most given the banged up state of the defense.

NHL confirms dates for 2017 Stanley Cup Final

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Game dates for this year’s Stanley Cup Final have been set.

Plan accordingly.

Following Friday’s game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators, the league released the dates for the next round. Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final goes May 29.

Here’s the complete list:

Of course, the teams that will compete next round for the Stanley Cup have yet to be determined.

The Penguins held on to defeat the Senators on Friday, tying the Eastern Conference Final at two games apiece as the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Sunday.

The Penguins’ depth on defense has been tested throughout the playoffs due to a list of injuries. Chad Ruhwedel is the latest. He has a concussion, said coach Mike Sullivan, after a controversial hit into the boards from Bobby Ryan.

The dynamic of the Western Conference Final has shifted dramatically in the last 24 hours. The Anaheim Ducks evened the series at 2-2 with an overtime win Thursday. The Nashville Predators received more troubling news Friday, as center and leading scorer Ryan Johansen had emergency hip surgery and is done for the playoffs.

Game 5 of that series goes Saturday.

Sullivan: Chad Ruhwedel has a concussion

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The Pittsburgh Penguins are dealing with yet another injury on defense.

Chad Ruhwedel left Friday’s Game 4 against the Ottawa Senators after getting hit into the boards by Bobby Ryan. The hit occurred in the final minute of the first period. Ruhwedel didn’t return and Pittsburgh played the rest of the game with five defensemen.

Following his team’s 3-2 victory to even the Eastern Conference Final at two games apiece, head coach Mike Sullivan announced that Ruhwedel has a concussion and will be evaluated when the team returns to Pittsburgh.

Sullivan also didn’t want to offer his opinion of the hit, which officials didn’t penalize.

“It’s not my job to evaluate how the call was made or not made,” said Sullivan. “You know, the referees are going to see it the way they see it, and they do the best job they can. We’re just going to play the game.”

The Penguins have been without Kris Letang for the entire post-season, and Justin Schultz has missed the last two games of this series due to injury. In Game 3, Trevor Daley returned to the lineup, as Pittsburgh went with seven defensemen, including Ruhwedel and Mark Streit.

Penguins hold off late Sens’ surge to win Game 4

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A pair of unlikely sources provided scoring for the Penguins on Friday, as they evened the Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators at two games apiece.

Earlier in the day, coach Mike Sullivan made his decision to start Matt Murray in place of Marc-Andre Fleury. It was a move certainly open to debate but what was more pressing for the Penguins was a need to regain their ability to score goals. They had fallen behind in the series and had only three goals through its first three games.

Credit to the Senators for their tight checking and defensive trap, which helped neutralize Pittsburgh’s speed and offensive capabilities. Hoping to avoid moving within one loss of elimination, the Penguins were able to solve the Senators and Craig Anderson before just barely holding on for a 3-2 victory in Ottawa.

Sidney Crosby scored Pittsburgh’s second goal and had an assist. He also led his team in shots on goal, but is obviously not the unlikely source for scoring. That title on Friday belonged to both Olli Maatta and Brian Dumoulin, who each scored their first goals, respectively, of these playoffs.

Maatta went short side on Anderson, who was cheating to the middle of the crease, and Dumoulin’s shot from the point deflected in off the skate of Ottawa defender Dion Phaneuf. Suddenly, the Penguins had matched their total offensive output from the three previous games.

For the Penguins, it’s a step in the right direction.

“I saw a lot of urgency on the part of the opponent, which was to be expected. You know, Stanley Cup champions, and they bounce back in every series. So that was to be expected,” said Senators coach Guy Boucher.

“I found that we fumbled a lot of pucks, and we didn’t look sharp at all in the first two periods.”

The Senators made a game of it, reducing Pittsburgh’s lead to just one goal late in the third period. But they couldn’t complete the comeback, failing to convert on a late power play despite a flurry of chances off the stick of Erik Karlsson after the Penguins were called for too many men on the ice with 34.3 seconds remaining.

The Penguins won this game while playing the majority of it with five defensemen.

Yes, more injury concern for the blue line.

Chad Ruhwedel left the game and didn’t return after he was hit into the boards by Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan in the final seconds of the first period.

The Penguins began this game already without defensemen Kris Letang (who hasn’t played in these playoffs) and Justin Schultz.

Murray made 24 saves for the win.

Game 5 goes Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Video: Bobby Ryan crunches Chad Ruhwedel, who has yet to return

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The Pittsburgh Penguins could be facing another injury on defense.

According to reports, Chad Ruhwedel wasn’t on the Penguins bench for the beginning of the second period, after he took a crunching and controversial hit from Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan in the final minute of the first period during Game 4.

As you can see in the video, Ruhwedel remained down on the ice in pain while a scrum ensued along the boards. Ian Cole, who came to the defense of Ruhwedel, dropped Ryan to the ice and was assessed a minor penalty for roughing. That was the only penalty on the play.

With Ruhwedel gone for now, the Penguins — already with Kris Letang and Justin Schultz — will be forced to play with five defenders.

Pittsburgh trails in the series 2-1, but took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

Related: WATCH LIVE: Penguins at Senators — Game 4