Penguins goalie Matt Murray returns to practice
The eagerly anticipated Matt Murray versus Marc-Andre Fleury showdown just might happen next week after all.
Murray skated with teammates Saturday morning for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury Nov. 27 against the Flyers. He was all smiles afterwards.
"It feels really good," Murray said. "Today I went 100 percent, did some battle, some change of direction, stuff like that, and everything felt really good. It's all positive right now."
Murray and coach Mike Sullivan cautioned that the goalie's recovery is still a day-to-day proposition, so it's premature to start penciling in a matchup of the last two goalies to win the Stanley Cup for the Penguins on Thursday night in Las Vegas.
But with Fleury back at Golden Knights practice after being out since Oct. 13 with a concussion and Murray's step forward Saturday, it's not out of the question.
"I'm going with no restrictions right now and just trying to push it," Murray said. "Still see how it responds, a day-to-day type thing, but it feels really good."
Murray was injured when Flyers forward Jakub Voracek slid into the crease while driving the net. Murray said he detected no foul play.
"He was trying to beat our D-man to the net, so he's coming in hot," Murray said. "He goes to stop. I watched the replay and the ice, literally, a chunk blew out from underneath his skate and he comes into me feet-first. Obviously no intent there. He's a fast skater. When he's coming in hot like that, a collision can be bad and the post kind of got in the way."
Murray occasionally has called for referees to afford goalies better protection from physical contact, but he made no such plea in this case.
"That's a tough one to avoid," Murray said. "Obviously it's hard to see it coming because you don't think he's going to blow his edge like that and come into you full speed. It's hard to brace yourself. Also, he still had the puck on his stick and he still got a shot on net too. It's not like you can worry about trying to cushion the impact or save yourself from injury because you gotta make that save still."
Murray has suffered a handful of injuries during his still-young NHL career, ranging from a concussion in the final game of the 2015-16 regular season to a torn hamstring before the playoff opener last year.
He said he is not beginning to question his training methods or planning any changes to his routine to try to improve his durability.
"I think my training's where I need to be," Murray said. "My lower body's feeling really good. I think that's one of the reasons that it wasn't a lot worse. You're able to cushion the impact at least a little bit. There's not really any scenario I can see where I could have avoided it any better than I tried to do on that play. I think it just comes down to bad luck."
While Murray continues his recovery, Tristan Jarry will continue to handle No. 1 goalie duties for the Penguins, including making the start Saturday night against Toronto.
Jarry is 4-1-0 with a .924 save percentage since Murray got hurt.
"He's been great," Murray said. "It's no surprise. He's a great goalie. He has a great mindset, I think. He's stepped up and done a great job. I think he's stolen a couple of games for us, making all the saves he needs to and then some. He's been stellar, for sure."
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.