Matt Murray gets call in net for Penguins vs. Panthers
Mike Sullivan’s juggling act with his goaltenders will put Matt Murray back in goal Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena against the Florida Panthers.
Murray, who is riding a career-long seven-game winning streak since returning Dec. 15 from a lower-body injury, got the night off Sunday in the Penguins’ 5-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. His save percentage in that stretch is a remarkable .962.
But Sullivan used Casey DeSmith against the Blackhawks, with an eye toward the team’s heavy schedule this week that includes a cross-country flight Wednesday and games Friday and Saturday in Anaheim and Los Angeles.
“That’s a heavy workload in a week for one guy,” Sullivan said. “We’re trying to manage the workload of both of these guys where they both have the ability to have success when they get in the net.”
That can be tricky. The Penguins have won eight of nine games to climb into second place in the Eastern Conference, but they are only three points out of ninth.
“We’re trying to make the best decisions to help our team win on a game-to-game basis,” Sullivan said. “We believe both of them at this point are doing that for us.”
DeSmith, who is only 15 months beyond his NHL debut, has helped in that endeavor, lessening the effect of Murray’s absence while compiling a 9-4-1 record in his past 14 starts.
“There is always that fine line,” Sullivan said. “We don’t want any one guy sitting too long because then it doesn’t put him in a real good position when he does get in the net to give us a legitimate chance to win and allow him to be at his best.”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.