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Stanley Cup Final

Matt Murray to start for Penguins in Game 2 of Cup Final

Goalie skips optional skate, says he's fine after facing plenty of contact against Predators in opener

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray will start Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Nashville Predators at PPG Paints Arena on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports).

Murray chose to stay off the ice for the Penguins optional skate Tuesday but will play after taking plenty of contact in a 5-3, Game 1 win Monday.

"I like to skate in the morning (on game days)," Murray said. "It's one of those days where you skate one or the other. So I like to skate in the mornings."

Murray said that from his perspective, there were no surprises in Game 1, including the Predators crowding the crease.


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"At the end of the day, we do a lot of work off the ice to prepare our bodies to go through whatever it is we need to go through on the ice," Murray said. "I think either way, I'm prepared for whatever contact may come."

Murray said it's not only Nashville's forwards who get close.

"A big part of their offense is their defensemen," Murray said. "They go hard to the net like forwards, like I said yesterday. It's definitely expected, something I'm prepared for."

Murray did not play the first 14 games of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He was injured during warmups prior to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 12.

He backed up Marc-Andre Fleury for Game 7 of the second round against the Washington Capitals and didn't play until he relieved Fleury in Game 3 of the conference final against the Ottawa Senators.

Since then, Murray has started five straight games and is 4-1 with a 1.62 goals-against average and .936 save percentage.

Video: NSH@PIT, Gm1: Murray turns aside Watson's wrister

He said Monday he didn't view the time he missed as helpful in terms of rest or freshness.

"I don't know, when you're hurt, you're still putting in long days," Murray said. "You're still working as hard as you can to get back. I don't know how to answer that. You're not skating every day, that may help you in some regard."

Murray allowed three goals on 26 shots and faced the occasional traffic jam in Game 1.

"I think he was good [dealing with] that," Penguins defenseman Ron Hainsey said. "I think the worst was when I fell on him. You always want to be clearing out the front of the net to make as easy as possible on him. Mine was probably the worst of it and I heard him (groan) when I fell on him."

That occurred midway through the first period when Nashville forwards Vernon Fiddler and Cody McLeod went hard to the net to try to get to a loose puck.

"The way that rush worked out, I was facing him and I didn't get my guy on my back where I needed him," Hainsey said. "I never got turned around. Then the worst of it was me falling on him because of the rebound lying there in the first period."

With Murray saying he's fine, of greater concern to the Penguins is the puzzle of what happened in Game 1, when they finished with 12 shots on goal and tried to contain Nashville's active defensemen.

"Yeah, a lot of similar stuff that we scouted, for sure," Murray said. "Point shots… their top four [defensemen] are huge for them. They're good at jumping into the rush, as well as off the cycle, in-zone type of play. That's a big part of their offense. They showed that yesterday, I thought."

The solutions, Murray said, will come in the attention to details, like giving those defensemen a little less time and space.

"I think try to stay in their face as much as possible, not allow them to get going," he said. "That would be the biggest thing. They're going to get their chances, but at the end of the day it's just about trying to hold them off, playing hard defensively. I think being hard in our net front is key too."

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