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Round 2

Matt Murray available for Penguins against Capitals in Game 7

Goaltender hasn't played since sustaining lower-body injury prior to Game 1 of first round

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

WASHINGTON -- Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray is expected to back up Marc-Andre Fleury against the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round.

Murray skated with his teammates Wednesday morning for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury during warmups before Game 1 of first round against the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 12. He came off the ice after Fleury, who is expected to start against the Capitals at Verizon Center on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

The winner will play the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Final.

"He's just taking the next step," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "He's been practicing [on his own] now for a number of days and he's ready to take the next step and join the team. And so he's just continuing that process."

Asked if he would have any reservations about using Murray, Sullivan said, "When players dress it means they're healthy and they're capable of playing."

Rookie Tristan Jarry has backed up Fleury while Murray was injured.

Video: Rupp and Bylsma preview Game 7 of the WSH-PIT series

Murray took over as the Penguins' starting goalie last season when Fleury was injured and became the fourth rookie goaltender to lead a team to the Stanley Cup, joining Ken Dryden of the Montreal Canadiens in 1971, Patrick Roy with the 1996 Canadiens and Cam Ward with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.

In 21 playoff games last year Murray went 15-6 with a 2.08 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. His 15 wins tied Ward, Roy and Ron Hextall of the 1987 Philadelphia Flyers for the NHL rookie record.

Murray went 32-10-4 this season with a 2.41 GAA and .923 save percentage in 49 games.

"He's obviously been a huge part of this team," forward Bryan Rust said. "Just to see him back is good. To see him out there kind of battling and competing like he was, I think it's good. It's good for our team."

Fleury led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup in 2009, winning Game 7 in the second round in Washington. He reclaimed the Penguins net after Murray was injured and has been a significant reason for the Penguins reaching this point of the postseason despite being outshot in 10 of their 11 games. He's 7-4 with a 2.78 GAA and .921 save percentage but has allowed eight goals in his past four periods.

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