PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury got to watch his team win from the bench Monday. That was also a win for him.
Fleury was Matt Murray's backup in the Penguins' 3-2 win against the Washington Capitals in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Consol Energy Center. It was the first time Fleury dressed for a game since March 31. He missed the last five games of the regular season and the first seven in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a concussion.
"It was good just to have a normal game-day routine, just being part of the team, taking the usual shots and being around the team all night," Fleury said. "It was fun, normal and nice."
Video: Fleury returns to back up Murray in Gm3 win vs Caps
Fleury looked like he was going to be able to play in Game 1 against the New York Rangers in the first round April 13. He practiced for two days leading up to the game and was in the net typically reserved for the starting goalie for the entire morning skate.
He didn't end up dressing for the game. Jeff Zatkoff made 35 saves in a 5-2 win with Tristan Jarry as his backup. Fleury later said he was frustrated that he couldn't play, that he felt his recovery was "taking forever," but it was out of his control.
Fleury eventually stopped skating altogether for a few days during the first round. Murray returned from his concussion and took over as the starter in Game 3, and the Penguins eliminated the Rangers in five games.
Fleury, though, began ramping up his workouts in recent days and was on the ice for the full morning skate Monday, taking all the shots in the net opposite Murray. Zatkoff watched most of the practice from the boards. Fleury was more of a spectator prior to Games 1 and 2.
"The last few days have been better," Fleury said. "I feel good now."
Fleury said he's good to play if the Penguins need him. Murray, though, isn't exactly leaving the door open for Fleury's return; he made 47 saves in the win Monday and is 5-1 with a 1.79 goals-against average and .944 save percentage in his six starts.
"He was awesome all night," Fleury said of Murray. "He kept us in the game, that's for sure. I think Matty, since he's been with us, he's had a great time with us."
So, for at least the time being, Fleury has only one job.
"Just keep practicing with the guys and cheering them on," he said.