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Fleury may make 2016 playoff debut in Game 6

Penguins goalie hasn't played since March 31 because of concussion

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins have not committed to a starting goalie for Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Second Round series against the Washington Capitals at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

A day after rookie goalie Matt Murray allowed three goals on 19 shots in Pittsburgh's 3-1 loss in Game 5 at Verizon Center, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan did not confirm Murray would start again Tuesday. With the Penguins leading the best-of-7 series, 3-2, speculation surrounding goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's potential return has increased.

"The reality is, we're fortunate we have two guys right now, in Matt and Marc that we feel strongly about both goalies and their ability to help us win," Sullivan said.

Video: Murray, Crosby react to Game 5 loss vs Washington

Fleury has not played since sustaining his second concussion of the season against the Nashville Predators on March 31. Before the concussion, Fleury had won eight of his previous nine games, and 11 of his previous 14 starts, allowing three goals in each of his past three appearances.

After missing the final five games of the regular season and the first seven of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Fleury dressed for Game 3 against Washington, but served as Murray's backup. The rookie impressed that game with a career-high 47 saves for his fifth playoff win in six starts.

If Fleury does start Tuesday, it will not result from a lack of confidence in Murray, who has gone 6-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .937 save percentage.

"I thought Matt played extremely well [Saturday], as he has this whole series," Sullivan said. "He made the saves that he was supposed to make for us. He made some timely saves for us. He gave us a chance to climb back into that game last night … I thought Matt's game last night was as solid as it's been all along here."

Murray felt he could have performed better in Game 5, but wasn't overly critical.

"I thought I competed hard," Murray said after the game. "I had a couple of missed saves here and there, and that's the difference."

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm5: Murray stones Kuznetsov on two-on-one

Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin beat Murray high on his glove side for the second time this series 4:04 into the first period Saturday. Forward Nicklas Backstrom fed Ovechkin alone in the left circle, where he unloaded a slap shot into the upper-right corner of Pittsburgh's net.

"It doesn't really change my mindset," Murray said. "It's a good shot. I thought I was in a pretty good position. I just couldn't make the save. You can't let that affect your mindset. You start overplaying Ovechkin then he passes it backdoor or passes it around you. So, I try to keep the same mindset."

Murray remains Pittsburgh's expected starter for Game 6. In eight playoff starts, Murray has allowed fewer than three goals five times. That level of success has him starting in front of Pittsburgh's franchise goalie of the past decade that helped them to its third Stanley Cup in 2009.

Sullivan routinely states he makes lineup adjustments on a game-by-game basis, and the Penguins' starting goalie for Game 6 will be no different.

"I've discussed these lineup decisions with all of our positions," Sullivan said, "and the coaching staff always discusses our lineup decisions with each respective decision, as far as what we want to go with. It's no different at the goaltending position … [Murray] has provided the timely saves for us throughout this playoff series and we feel strongly that he gives us a chance to win when he's the goalie."

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