The Penguins announced Matt Murray will be the starting goalie for Friday night's crucial Game 4 against Ottawa in the Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Finals. Fleury, who backed up Murray during the regular season, played extremely well and was credited with carrying the team at times.
The head coach refused to explain his decision publicly. "That's the decision we made". He was far from the only Penguin to blame, but he didn't get a chance to redeem himself in Game 4. "We'll see how it goes".
Murray, who suffered a lower-body injury during warm-ups before the opening game of their opening round National Hockey League playoff series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, finally returning to the Penguins line-up as a back-up to Marc-Andre Fleury at the end of their second-round series against the Washington Capitals.
Murray, who hadn't started a game since April 6, looked comfortable making 24 saves as the Penguins defeated the Ottawa Senators 3-2 to tie the best-of-seven series 2-2, with Game 5 Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh. The series was knotted at two and the Penguins were coming off a 4-3 defeat.
"I thought he was really solid in there", Sullivan said.
"Each time I've gotten hurt, I've come back stronger and that's all you can do", Murray said Thursday after practice at the University of Ottawa.
"That's been a hard decision for this coaching staff all year long", Sullivan said of choosing between Fleury and Murray.
Before the puck even dropped for their first playoff game, the Pittsburgh Penguins lost their primary goaltender.
"They were the better team tonight for two periods and they deserved the game", Senators coach Guy Boucher said.
The Penguins won this game while playing the majority of it with five defensemen.
Murray made a strong stop on Mike Hoffman less than two minutes into the game and denied Viktor Stalberg on a pair of follow-up opportunities. He had a.924 save percentage in 15 playoff starts this spring.
"We never take these decisions lightly", Sullivan said. "They both want to be in net; we don't always expect them to agree with our decisions". You know, Stanley Cup champions, and they bounce back in every series.