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Murray to start Game 6 for Penguins

Rookie goalie gets call with Pittsburgh facing elimination

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

TAMPA -- Goalie Matt Murray will start for the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Penguins trail the best-of-7 series 3-2.

After starting 13 straight games, Murray was the backup to Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 5 on Sunday. It was Fleury's first start since he sustained his second concussion of the season on March 31. He made 21 saves in a 4-3 loss, but allowed four goals on the last 14 shots he faced. 

Sullivan said he chose Murray as the starter for Game 6 because he believes Murray gives the Penguins a better chance to win than Fleury, who clearly seemed to be affected by the seven weeks he went without a start.

"At this particular point in the season we don't have the luxury of allowing players to play through things," Sullivan said. "We have to win a game. We have to win a hockey game. That's how we looked at it."

Murray is 3-3 with an .892 save percentage in his past six starts after going 6-1 with a .944 save percentage in his first seven. He allowed four goals on 30 shots in two periods against the Lightning in Game 4. Fleury was in goal to start the third period in what ended as a 4-3 Penguins loss.

Murray is 3-0 with a .929 save percentage in starts after a loss in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"For a 21-year-old, his short-term memory is incredible," Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy said. "He's been able to put everything behind him. Anything that goes wrong, he forgets about. He's ultra-competitive but he has that mentality where he is always going to save the next puck."

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said Murray's confidence and poise have stuck out to him.

"It doesn't seem like any situation has really fazed him or surprised him," Crosby said. "He's handled each challenge like he's been through it way beyond his years."

Maybe for those reasons Sullivan said he's not worried about Murray's ability to respond after being benched for Game 5.

"Matt has played extremely well for us throughout the course of the playoffs," Sullivan said. "He's won a lot of big games for us. He's made timely saves for us. He has a demeanor back there, a calming effect on the group in front of him. I think his performance speaks for itself. He's been thrown into a tough situation and he's handled it extremely well."

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