Cam Tucker

Matt Murray was ‘solid’ for Penguins in return to starting role

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After backing the Pittsburgh Penguins to a Stanley Cup last year, Matt Murray finally made his first start of the 2017 playoffs on Friday.

The Penguins held on for the win, tying the Eastern Conference Final with the Ottawa Senators at 2-2. Murray, put back into the No. 1 role after coach Mike Sullivan opted to go with the 22-year-old puck stopper over Marc-Andre Fleury in the wake of a Game 3 loss, made 24 saves for the win.

The Sens made it interesting in the third period, cutting Pittsburgh’s lead to just a goal and then getting a power play in the final minute with a chance to tie the game.

The Sens looked outmatched through two periods but pushed for the equalizer in the third. Murray turned aside nine of 10 shots faced in the final 20 minutes.

“I thought Matt was solid. He made some timely saves for us when we needed it,” said Sullivan. “He has a calm demeanor about him. I thought he was tracking the puck extremely well. And certainly, he made a couple of key saves for us at key times. We’re fortunate that we have the guys that we have back there, whether it be Matt or Marc.”

The Penguins got the desired result Friday, but this was still another goaltending gamble from Sullivan. Once again, it worked out in his favor.

“We believe that we have both guys back there that are really high quality goaltenders,” he said. “So these decisions aren’t easy — which particular guy that we choose to put in the net. Certainly, we trust these guys, and that’s why we can make these types of decisions.”

Following the win, Fleury spoke about once again being placed in the back-up role. His future with the Penguins will certainly be up for discussion once the season comes to an end, but for now, he’s sticking true to the team-first mentality.

“I don’t want to make this about me,” Fleury told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Last playoff, this season, it’s about the team. We won [Friday]. Scored some goals. That was nice.”

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