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Penguins

Penguins notebook: Murray gives post no credit for breakaway save

Jonathan Bombulie
| Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, 8:30 p.m.
Penguins goalie Matt Murray blocks a shot on goal by the Avalanche during the third period Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, in Denver.
Penguins goalie Matt Murray blocks a shot on goal by the Avalanche during the third period Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, in Denver.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Midway through the second period Thursday night, with the Penguins holding a 2-0 lead, Colorado Avalanche leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon found a loose puck in the neutral zone and took off on a breakaway.

His shot caught iron behind Matt Murray.

How a goalie views a play like that can tell a lot about his competitive mindset.

Many netminders consider it a stroke of good fortune, even going so far as to thank the post behind them for its help. Marc-Andre Fleury has been known to do that once in a while.

Others, however, consider it a piece of good goaltending. If a goalie plays the shot perfectly, he gives the offensive player no part of the net to shoot at, and his only choice is to hit iron.

Every situation is different, of course, but in broad terms, Murray is in the second camp. His confidence in his ability shines through.

“I know it's cliche to say, but you say, ‘That's all I gave you was the post.' A lot of times, that's true,” Murray said. “You watch a replay or something, and I'll bet you on that breakaway there, that was the case. I felt like I was right over top of it. I knew as soon as it missed my glove, I didn't think it was going to go in. I knew it was either going to hit the post or miss the net. I felt like I played it pretty well.”

C replaces H

With Carl Hagelin out with a concussion, players have been auditioning for the “H” spot on the famous HBK Line with center Nick Bonino and right wing Phil Kessel.

For the past two games, rookie Jake Guentzel filled the void. If Friday's practice combinations hold up, veteran center Matt Cullen will get a crack at it Saturday night in Arizona.

“We've moved our lines around a lot this year, especially here lately with injuries. I'm not shocked to be on the left side,” Cullen said. “I've played a little bit of both. Very comfortable there. I've played quite a bit with Phil. I don't know that I've played a lot with Bones, but I think our styles will complement each other pretty well.”

Guentzel moved up to Sidney Crosby's left wing, opposite Chris Kunitz. The other two lines saw Evgeni Malkin centering Scott Wilson and Patric Hornqvist and Carter Rowney between Tom Kuhnhackl and Eric Fehr.

Coach Mike Sullivan said there is no change in Hagelin's status as he continues to skate on his own while recovering from the concussion.

998 and counting

With reporters in Colorado and Arizona taking their turns asking about it, Sidney Crosby continues to talk regularly about his impending induction into the NHL's 1,000-point club. He's two points away.

He hasn't publicly shown any weariness discussing the topic yet, but he's probably getting there.

“I'd like to have it done by now,” Crosby said Friday. “There have been some really good chances. I've found a lot of posts lately. That's the way it's going. Being so close, you just want to get it.”

Spreading it around

The last time the Penguins faced the Coyotes, they came away with a convincing 7-0 win Dec. 12 at home.

What Sullivan said he remembers most about that game was how seven players scored goals and six others added assists.

“Any time you get contributions from all throughout your lineup, you're more difficult to play against,” Sullivan said. “That's been a characteristic of this group. For me, that's the true essence of a team — when different people step up at different times.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.

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