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Murray 'is an option' for Penguins vs. Rangers

Goaltender could see action for Pittsburgh; Rangers' McDonagh may return

by Jon Lane @JonLaneNHL / Staff Writer


Eastern Conference First Round

Best-of-7 series tied 1-1

TV: 7 p.m. ET; USA, SN, TVA Sports, ROOT, MSG

NEW YORK -- Mystery and intrigue continue to surround the Pittsburgh Penguins' goaltending situation.

Though goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was ruled out of Game 3 against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, rookie backup Matthew Murray is available for the first time in the series.

Fleury has missed the past eight games, including the first two of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with a concussion. He practiced Monday but did not participate in an optional morning skate Tuesday and remains day-to-day.

Murray also practiced Monday for the first time since he sustained an upper-body injury in the Penguins' regular-season finale on April 9. Murray worked out of the visiting starter's net at the morning skate, but Jeff Zatkoff was first on the ice, which usually indicates the starting goalie for the game that night.

But considering Fleury was first off the ice before Game 1, that may not mean anything. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan did not commit to a starter for Game 3, saying only that Murray "is an option for tonight."

Zatkoff made 35 saves in Pittsburgh's 5-2 win in Game 1, his first start since Feb. 20, but allowed three goals in a 4:14 stretch of the second period during a 4-2 loss in Game 2. He is 1-1 with a 3.07 goals-against average and .908 save percentage in the two games.

Murray, 21, who was injured after a collision with Philadelphia Flyers forward Brayden Schenn, was 9-2-1 with a 2.00 GAA and .930 save percentage in the regular season.

The Rangers are waiting to see if defenseman Ryan McDonagh returns from a right hand injury that has sidelined him for five consecutive games. McDonagh, who practiced Monday and skated with Rangers extras Tuesday, will meet with team doctors, who will determine his availability for Game 3.

"I said doubtful [on Monday]," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "Now it's a little higher than what I said yesterday with him meeting with the docs."

If McDonagh plays, the Rangers will have four left-handed defensemen and two right-handers in the lineup, which means the left-handed Brady Skjei could be asked to move to his off side. Skjei played several effective shifts on the right side during the final 20 minutes of Game 2.

Dylan McIlrath would likely be a healthy scratch. Veteran defenseman Dan Girardi (undisclosed) remains sidelined.

"I'm still contemplating here," Vigneault said. "I'm going to wait for the meeting with the docs and then I'll make up my mind on how I should do that. I'm not going to get into lineup decisions. I'm looking at all of my options right now."

Skjei and McIlrath have filled in for McDonagh and Girardi. Skjei, the Rangers' first-round pick (No. 28) in the 2012 NHL Draft, has averaged 18:05 of ice time, including 19 minutes in Game 2, in which he had an assist for his first NHL point. McIlrath, the 10th pick in 2010, played 9:07 after sitting out Game 1.

"They both have been solid," defenseman Marc Staal said. "When you're a young guy like that and you're asked to play more minutes, I think the more comfortable you get. The more you're on the ice, the more your name is called, the better you feel on the ice. Both of them have done that."

The Rangers were comfortable at Madison Square Garden during the regular season with their 27-10-4 record third behind the Washington Capitals and Dallas Stars. New York, however, lost its past two regular-season games against Pittsburgh on home ice after winning five of the previous six, including the playoffs.

"We know how good the Rangers are [at home], but we're a good team too," Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin said. "It's going to be a big fight tonight. I'm excited to play. We'll see who is better."

Here are the projected lineups:


Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist

Conor Sheary - Evgeni Malkin - Eric Fehr

Carl Hagelin - Nick Bonino - Phil Kessel

Tom Kuhnhackl - Matt Cullen - Bryan Rust

Olli Maatta - Kris Letang

Brian Dumoulin - Trevor Daley

Ian Cole - Ben Lovejoy

Jeff Zatkoff

Matthew Murray

Injured: Kevin Porter (ankle surgery), Scott Wilson (lower body), Beau Bennett (undisclosed), Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion)

Scratched: Derrick Pouliot, Justin Schultz, Oskar Sundqvist, Tristan Jarry


Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Mats Zuccarello

J.T. Miller - Derick Brassard - Rick Nash

Eric Staal - Kevin Hayes - Jesper Fast

Tanner Glass - Dominic Moore - Viktor Stalberg

Marc Staal - Kevin Klein

Keith Yandle - Dylan McIlrath

Brady Skjei - Dan Boyle

Henrik Lundqvist

Antti Raanta

Injured: Ryan McDonagh (right hand), Dan Girardi (undisclosed)

Scratched: Oscar Lindberg, Raphael Diaz, Marek Hrivik, Magnus Hellberg

Status report: Girardi skated with Rangers extras after skating on his own the past few days. He did not play in Game 2 and missed the final two games of the regular season. "We'll see how he progresses," Vigneault said. … The Penguins likely will play the same lines used in practice Monday with Malkin centering Fehr and Sheary. "He's a smart guy who always works hard," Malkin said of Fehr. "We just play our game and control the puck together."

Who's hot: Crosby has at least one point in 21 of his past 23 games (12-20-32) since Feb. 29. ... Hornqvist's four points (three goals, assists) is tied with Brassard for the series lead. Brassard has a point in eight of his past 10 playoff games against the Penguins since Game 5 of the 2014 second round. ... Kessel has 12 points in his 10 games against the Rangers, including five in the past three. … Miller's three assists in the second period of Game 2 tied a Rangers record for assists in one period of a playoff game. ... Lundqvist is 8-1 with a 1.47 GAA and .950 save percentage in his past 10 playoff appearances against Pittsburgh.

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