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Penguins' Fleury adjusting to mentor's role

Erstwhile starting goalie supporting rookie Murray

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

Off Day: Fleury (5.3.16)

Hear what Fleury has to say after practice

Marc-Andre Fleury speaks with the media following practice at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, presented by 84 Lumber

  • 04:32 •

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is adapting to his role as mentor for rookie goalie Matt Murray.

Fleury dressed Monday for the first time since sustaining his second concussion of the season March 31. A lengthy recovery ultimately led him to the bench, where he sat with his customary backwards hat and watched Murray make an NHL career-high 47 saves in a 3-2 win against the Washington Capitals in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round.

Murray is expected to start again in Game 4 at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). Pittsburgh leads the best-of-7 series 2-1.

After the Capitals began stockpiling shots in the second period of Game 3 to no avail, Penguins fans began chanting Murray's last name in a similar way to how Fleury has been addressed for a decade.

Video: Matt Murray speaks to media after Game 3

"I heard it. It was loud," Fleury said. "It was good for him, but I didn't think too much into anything else of it."

It's no secret Fleury wants to play. Now healthy, he believes he could recapture his performance of just more than a month ago, when his season ended with an NHL career-low 2.29 goals-against average in 58 starts.

However, Fleury realizes that's simply not currently in the cards.

"I love to play. I love the game," Fleury said. "I think those games are the most fun, the most intense, the toughest games to win. And when you do win, it's such a great feeling. You work all summer, all season, to make the playoffs to get a chance to chase the Cup. I wish I could play, but that's how it is and that's fine."

Fleury and Murray appear to be quite different. Fleury, 31, is known for his jovial personality and nearly permanent grin. Murray, 21, is considered mature for his age with a more serious demeanor. Fleury described Murray as "pretty calm on and off the ice." Murray has said Fleury's playful outlook helps relieve stress.

With those differences, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said they have built a strong relationship.

Video: Fleury returns to back up Murray in Gm3 win vs Caps

"I just think these guys are great pros and good people," Sullivan said. "They have a good relationship. They root for one another. They're important parts of the team. We believe in the team, as a whole, as being the most important part. I think that's the greatest thing about our game, is when it becomes part of something that's bigger than yourself it really is a terrific experience."

Even though Fluery would like to regain his starting role, he wants to help Murray succeed.

"I think the playoffs are always very stressful and intense and it's nice to relax a little bit," Fleury said. "It isn't easy, but it's nothing to worry about too much. He's been great. He has a good personality, great confidence and I'm just here to help."

Fleury is the Penguins all-time wins leader (357) and won the 2009 Stanley Cup, but is backing up a rookie who has started 19 NHL games in the regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs. That rookie went 9-2-1 in the regular season before winning five of his first six playoff starts.

Murray is expected to remain Pittsburgh's starter until his production dips, which Fleury is taking in stride.

"He's just a great person," Sullivan said. "He's a team guy. He's a good person. He understands the circumstance and he rolls with it. As players, all that you can do is control that which is in your control and it is good for us that we have a healthy Marc-Andre Fleury right now. That makes us a better team. He's going to do everything he can to make sure that he's sharp for when the time comes and we need him to help us win. 

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm3: Murray denies Carlson with slick glove

"In the meantime, he's doing a great job with Matt. He's a terrific mentor and very supportive of what Matt's accomplished here so far."

Fleury has referred to his recovery as long and frustrating. Now he's dealing with a different kind of stress.

"I think it's more stressful when you don't play than when you play," Fleury said. "You just sit there and keep on cheering on the guys. I think that's all you can do, really."

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