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Goaltender Matt Murray to start Game 4 for Penguins vs. Senators

Replaces Marc-Andre Fleury, who was pulled in first period of Game 3 loss

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / NHL.com Staff Writer

OTTAWA -- Goaltender Matt Murray will start for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Coach Mike Sullivan made the announcement Friday morning after declining to name his starter Thursday.

Sullivan would not explain the reasons for his decision.

"That's the decision we made," he said. "We made it for Game 4. We'll see how it goes."

 

[RELATED: Complete Penguins vs Senators series coverage]

 

Murray replaced Marc-Andre Fleury after Fleury allowed four goals on nine shots in the opening 12:52 of the Penguins' 5-1 loss in Game 3 on Wednesday.

The Penguins trail the best-of-7 series 2-1 and are looking for a spark after starting poorly in Game 3. Murray allowed one goal on 20 shots after replacing Fleury.

It was Murray's first game since a 7-4 regular-season win against the New Jersey Devils on April 6. He sustained a lower-body injury during warmups before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 12.

"I thought he was really solid in there," Sullivan said of Murray. "He's had a lot of practice time here in the last couple of weeks. We feel like we have two guys that are capable of helping this team win."

Fleury started all 15 games for the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, going 9-6 with a 2.56 goals against-average,.924 save percentage and two shutouts. Murray has backed up Fleury the past four games.

Sullivan said he explained his decision to Fleury and that he "was a professional like he always is."

Video: PIT@OTT, Gm3: Murray gloves down Ryan's redirect

"These guys are both competitors, they both want to be in the net," Sullivan said. "We don't always expect them to agree with our decisions. Our hope is that they respect our decision and both of them have always been professional, but they're competitors. I understand they want to be in the net. That's what makes them as good as they are."

Fleury has demonstrated an ability to bounce back throughout the playoffs. In five starts following a loss, he is 4-1 with a 1.80 GAA, .946 save percentage and two shutouts. That includes a 29-save shutout in a 2-0 win against the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of the second round and a 23-save shutout in a 1-0 win in Game 2 against the Senators on Monday.

The situation was reversed last season when Fleury missed the beginning of the playoffs because of a concussion and Murray took over as the Penguins' No. 1 goalie. He went 15-6 with a 2.09 GAA, .923 save percentage and one shutout in 21 games to help them win the Stanley Cup.

This season, he set a Penguins rookie record for regular-season wins, going 32-10-4 with a 2.41 GAA, .923 SV% and four shutouts.

Sullivan made a similar decision to change goaltenders during the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning last season, turning to Fleury to start Game 5 after Murray was pulled from a 4-3 loss in Game 4. Fleury allowed four goals on 25 shots in a 4-3 overtime loss and Sullivan went back to Murray for the remainder of the playoffs.

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