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Fleury to start Game 5 for Penguins

Veteran goalie replaces Murray against Lightning

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

PITTSBURGH -- Marc-Andre Fleury will be the Pittsburgh Penguins starting goalie against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final at Consol Energy Center on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said following morning skate.

Fleury will make his first start and second appearance since March 31, when he sustained his second concussion of the season. He made seven saves in relief of rookie Matt Murray in the third period of the 4-3 loss in Game 4 on Friday.

Murray will be the backup for Game 5. The rookie started the previous 13 games and went 9-4 with a 2.33 goals-against average and .923 save percentage.

The best-of-7 series is tied 2-2.

"Lots of things went into the decision," Sullivan said. "I'd rather not elaborate on the details of it, but certainly we had lengthy discussions. It's an important decision for our hockey team. We're trying to make the best decisions that we can, that we think give our team the best chance to win. That's the route or direction we chose to take for this game."

Fleury missed the first seven games of the playoffs while still recovering from his concussion. He began serving as Murray's backup for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Washington Capitals.

He went 35-17-6 with a 2.29 GAA and .921 save percentage in the regular season. Fleury, who won the 2009 Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh, is 53-44 with a .906 save percentage and 2.64 GAA in his Stanley Cup Playoff career. This will be his 100th career playoff appearance.

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"He's a great teammate," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "He comes to the rink with a smile on his face every day. He's got a great attitude. He works hard every day he's out there regardless of the situation. Those are the type of guys you love to have on your team and he's one of them."

Murray was 6-1 with a .944 save percentage in his first seven starts of the playoffs; he is 3-3 with an .892 save percentage in his past six starts.

Sullivan said he isn't worried about how Murray will handle being taken out of the starter's role.

"Matt's terrific," Sullivan said. "He gets it. He's a mature kid. If and when he's called upon to go back in the net he'll go back in the net. That's what he does. He comes to the rink every day, he puts his equipment on and he plays. That's one of the things we love about him."

The Penguins players said Fleury and Murray are similar in how they play and communicate, which is why they don't feel they will have to make any specific adjustments with Fleury back in net.

"They both are really calm and they challenge the shooter a lot, so they're two similar personalities and that's probably why it's not a big difference," forward Patric Hornqvist said.

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