Penguins turn to Casey DeSmith to get back into playoff picture
The Pittsburgh Penguins will turn to Casey DeSmith to try to get back into the playoff picture Sunday afternoon.
DeSmith will start in goal as the Penguins take on the New York Rangers at PPG Paints Arena. Coming into the game, the Penguins were ninth in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Carolina Hurricanes in the race for the eighth and final playoff berth.
It’s the first time the Penguins have been out of the playoff picture 70 percent of the way into the regular season since 2009.
“I think the reality has been set in,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “We’re not going to look at the big picture right now. We’re going to take each game as it comes, and that’s the approach that we’ve always taken with this group, making sure we stay in the moment, we control what we can to get the best results, and that’s all we can do. The reality is, there’s a lot of games left. There’s a lot of opportunity for us to win games and put ourselves in the best possible position, and that’s how we have to look at it.”
DeSmith is 3-5-1 with a .903 save percentage since Matt Murray returned from a lower-body injury Dec. 15. He lost five of his last six starts, but stopped all seven shots he faced in relief of Murray in the third period of a 5-4 Penguins loss to Calgary on Saturday.
“I think he’s done a pretty good job,” Sullivan said. “In most of the games Casey’s been in, he’s given us a chance to win.”
Murray is 13-5-0 with a .932 save percentage since Dec. 15, but he gave up five goals on 24 shots before being pulled after two periods against the Flames.
“There was a lot that went into it,” Sullivan said. “We talked about it in between periods and we felt like we needed a spark. We needed to try to generate some energy, and sometimes that’s the best way to do it.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .