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Fleury still experiences concussion-related symptoms

Penguins goalie uncertain for start of second round as he continues recovery from injury sustained March 31

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury continues to experience symptoms stemming from his second concussion of the season. 

Fleury participated in the optional practice Monday that included five skaters and two goalies, but is unsure if he will be available for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Washington Capitals. He has not played since sustaining a concussion against the Nashville Predators on March 31.

"I'm just getting back out there," Fleury said. "Trying to get a sweat and to still stop some pucks."

Fleury skated six times during Pittsburgh's 4-1 series win against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference First Round and was a game-time decision for Games 1 and 2. Before Monday, he had not practiced since April 18, the day before Game 3.

Throughout the past week, coach Mike Sullivan has said Fleury was "going through a process" and remained day-to-day. Sullivan said he would not divulge the specifics of Fleury's injury.

"We trust that our medical staff does the right thing as far as trying to do their best to rehab our guys, regardless of what their injury is," Sullivan said. "So, we go on the advice of our doctors and our medical staff. These guys are sharp guys. They know what they're doing."

Following his last practice a week ago, Fleury expressed frustration over the pace of his recovery. He said it hasn't gotten any easier, but he has tried to remain positive.

"It's been one of the toughest things I've been through," Fleury said. "There's some good days where you think you're back and some bad days and you think it's never going to get fixed. It's a lot of ups and downs. 

"It's such a fun time of year to play hockey and every game is so intense and meaningful. It's tough to just be watching, but I just have to deal with it, fix it up and cheer on our guys. … I'm trying to encourage them. It's such a fun game to watch. It gets me intense and I feel like it's more stressful not playing."

Jeff Zatkoff and Matt Murray replaced Fleury throughout the first round. Zatkoff won one of his two starts before Murray returned from an upper-body injury for Game 3 and won his first three Stanley Cup Playoff starts to send Pittsburgh into the second round.

Murray, 21, has won his past 10 decisions, including seven since replacing Fleury, dating back to March 6. He allowed one goal on 48 shots in his first two playoff starts before making 38 saves in a 6-3 win in Game 5 against the Rangers.

"He's very mature. He's a guy that's doing so well right now," Fleury said. "Right now, obviously he's staying calm. He sees the puck very well right now, so it's been good for us."

Having faced the Capitals in the playoffs in 2009, Fleury shared the advice he will provide Murray entering the matchup.

"I think I can tell him [Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin] likes to shoot," Fleury said. "I'm sure he knows that one."

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