Penguins to stick with Matt Murray in goal against Bruins
Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray is officially moving into workhorse territory.
Murray will make his eighth straight start when the Penguins play host to the Boston Bruins on Sunday night, coach Mike Sullivan announced a few hours before the puck dropped.
Casey DeSmith, who hasn’t started since Feb. 21, will have to keep waiting for his next assignment.
Throughout most of Murray’s NHL career, Sullivan has been hesitant to use the 6-foot-4 goaltender on consecutive days. With the Penguins locked in a tight playoff race and Murray playing extraordinarily well, that tendency has changed in recent days.
On Feb. 2, Sullivan turned to Murray for both ends of a back-to-back, and on the tail end, he made 36 saves to lead the Penguins to a 5-1 victory at Montreal.
“I don’t know if it changed the calculus,” Sullivan said. “I’ve had a lot of conversations with Matt, almost daily, about where he’s at and how he’s feeling. When we look at his body of work to this point, his game count is still down. Some of it has been through injury. There’s been a lot of reasons for it. But it’s not like he’s in the 50s and he’s going to end up close to 70 games played when it’s all said and done.
“We think he’s playing extremely well right now, and he feels good. He feels strong and he’s confident. Right now, we feel he gives us the best chance to win.”
Murray will be making his 38th appearance of the season Sunday night.
Since returning from a lower-body injury Dec. 15, Murray is 18-6-2 with a .930 save percentage. During his run of seven consecutive starts, he’s 4-1-2 with a .927 save percentage.
The heavy workload Murray has been carrying lately, by sheer force of mathematics, increases the probability of a potential injury, but that’s a risk Sullivan and Murray are apparently willing to take.
“He wants to be the guy,” Sullivan said. “He’s a competitive kid. He knows how important these games are this time of year, and he wants the net. He’s played extremely well, and in my mind, he’s deserving of it.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .