Mike Sullivan hasn’t tipped his hand yet regarding whether Marc-Andre Fleury or Matt Murray will be the Pittsburgh Penguins’ starter against the Ottawa Senators for Game 4.
Strategically, it would make sense for him to play coy even if he knows.
If he really doesn’t, that would be understandable, too. Murray missed a huge chunk of playoff time because of an injury, and during that span, Fleury’s been mostly outstanding.
Mike Milbury has advice for Sullivan: don’t be sentimental. The Penguins might need a boost, and Murray seems more likely to provide that edge; both Milbury and Keith Jones agree that Murray is the best choice for Game 4.
That contest will air at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN on Friday. You can also watch it online and via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.
Pens head coach Mike Sullivan said he needed to sleep on his decision for a starting goalie in Friday’s Game 4 versus Ottawa.
So he did.
But the night of rest didn’t change his stance on divulging information.
Sullivan wouldn’t say if Marc-Andre Fleury or Matt Murray would get the call tomorrow, per Sportsnet. Murray relieved Fleury 12:52 into the first period of last night’s contest, after Fleury allowed four goals on nine shots.
Murray finished with 19 saves on 20 shots in an eventual 5-1 loss.
Just to add to today’s intrigue, neither goalie would divulge who gets the next start (per Pens Inside Scoop). But there was a sign of where the decision might be heading at Thursday’s practice — Fleury had his own net, while Murray and third-stringer Tristan Jarry shared the other.
Fleury has been terrific this postseason, which is why Sullivan could be inclined to stick with him. It’s also worth noting that Fleury’s done an excellent job of bouncing back from tough outings. In Round 1, he gave up five goals in a Game 4 loss to Columbus, then stopped 49 shots for a win in Game 5.
Against Washington in Round 2, he was beaten five times on 26 shots in Game 6. He then posted a 29-save shutout in Game 7.
If Mike Sullivan knows who he’ll choose to start in net for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final, he’s not telling.
Sullivan claimed that he hadn’t given much thought to Matt Murray vs. Marc-Andre Fleury shortly after the Ottawa Senators dominated the Penguins by a tune to 5-1 in Game 3 on Wednesday.
“I haven’t even given any consideration to that at this point,” Sullivan said. “We give up four goals as quickly as we did, sometimes when you make a change, it’s for more than one reason … It’s a little bit of a wake-up call, I guess, for the whole group.”
Here’s the Senators surge Sullivan was talking about:
Sullivan faces an interesting dilemma. Does he go with:
- Fleury, who’s been outstanding for the majority of his appearances during these Stanley Cup Playoffs?
- Or does he choose Murray, the guy who won him a Stanley Cup in 2015-16 and is (seemingly?) slated to be “the guy” for Pittsburgh going forward?
It certainly isn’t the easiest decision to make, and with plenty of stakes as the Senators could put the Penguins on the brink of elimination if they beat them in Game 4.
That contest will air at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can also watch it online and via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.
Cameras caught Sidney Crosby staring blankly at the ice during the first period, capturing the thoughts of the Pittsburgh Penguins … if not the hockey world at large in Game 3.
After two clutch-and-grab games in Pittsburgh, the Senators are putting on a show for their crowd in Ottawa, scoring four goals on Marc-Andre Fleury in just under 13 minutes of game time. The flurry against Fleury came on just nine shots on goal.
About the only heartening news for the Penguins is that they have time for a comeback, though it wouldn’t be easy, particularly against a tight Senators defense and keyed-in Craig Anderson. Then again, Fleury was keyed-in himself … until tonight.
You can watch Game 3 on NBCSN, online and via the NBC Sports App. (Stream online here)
Back in November, Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford admitted that the Penguins’ two-goalie system wasn’t working as well as he’d hoped.
Flash forward to the present, though, and Rutherford is sure glad he didn’t break down and trade Marc-Andre Fleury.
After all, Matt Murray was hurt for most of the first two rounds of the playoffs, and Fleury saved the day.
“I’m very happy we have the two goalies we have, but I never changed my position from the start of camp. I never wavered on it,” Rutherford said today. “I had some calls during the season asking about him. Those conversations didn’t go very far.
“I know there were times during the season where it became a little more difficult for the coaching staff and for the goalies because they both wanted to play. And when they were both healthy, it didn’t work ideal because one guy maybe sat a little longer than he wanted. But as it’s turned out, it’s worked good for both guys.”
Fleury is 8-4 with a .927 save percentage this postseason. And while Murray is healthy enough to back up now, the Penguins are expected to start the veteran Saturday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final against Ottawa.
“I think Marc deserves the right to play,” said head coach Mike Sullivan. “He’s played so well for us, and he’s really at the top of his game. But having said that, we have Matt who’s a quality goaltender as well. Just like all of our players on our team, we can’t predict how series unfold or what comes our way. So we just want to have as many healthy bodies as we can available to us to help us win.”
Related: Fleury could be good option for Flames … or even Flyers