The Penguins have both the NHL and AHL shutout leaders in their organization.
Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton netminder Matt Murray pace their respective leagues with nine blankings each, and they’ve both been making history along the way.
Here’s more on their respective accomplishments…MARC-ANDRE FLEURY
Fleury picked up his ninth shutout of year on Saturday night in the Pens’ 1-0 overtime win over Los Angeles, when he stopped all 31 shots he faced in 61:44 minutes.
Over the last five full seasons (excluding the shortened year), only five other goaltenders have posted nine or more shutouts within a single season: Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick, Martin Brodeur, Brian Elliott and Tim Thomas.
With that goose egg, Fleury and the Pens equaled the franchise record for shutouts within a single season with nine – a mark first established in 1998-99.
The difference between this season and that one is it took three netminders to accomplish the feat in ’98-99, while Fleury has all nine shutouts this year. In ’98-99, Tom Barrasso led the club with four shutouts; Peter Skudra had three; and Jean-Sebastien Aubin two.
That’s not the first time Fleury has rewritten the record books this season. On Feb. 6 in Calgary, he earned the 36th shutout of his career in the Pens’ 2-0 win over the Flames – surpassing Barrasso’s single-season franchise record of seven, set in 1997-98.
“It’s nice. I’ve said before, Tom Barrasso is somebody I look up to,” Fleury said after the game. “So to be able to reach him, it’s always nice.”
These achievements are certainly special, but what makes them even more meaningful is that before now, the one statistic Fleury hadn’t truly prospered in was the shutout category. He’s often joked in the past that he’s the NHL’s all-time leader in one-goal wins, as in surrendering just one goal in a victory; just one goal shy of a shutout.
“Being a goalie, I think you always want to make every stop, so definitely nice when it happens,” Fleury said. “I think it shows too how well our team has been playing in front of me helping me out, and that’s why we’ve been successful.”
Now, he’s dominating in that area and the rest of them as well. In addition to leading the NHL with nine shutouts, Fleury ranks fourth with a 2.14 goals-against average, is tied for fifth with a .925 save percentage and tied for sixth with 30 wins.MATT MURRAY
Meanwhile, Murray has been making league history as well as team history and has been arguably the top netminder in the AHL.
On Sunday afternoon, the rookie goaltender established a new AHL record for the longest shutout streak. He extended it to 304:11 before finally allowing a goal to Springfield’s Dana Tyrell with just 1:11 remaining in the third period of WBS’ 4-1 win over the Falcons – falling just short of what would have been a fifth consecutive shutout.
Murray stopped 130 consecutive shots over his streak, which was nearly 36 minutes longer than the previous record of 268:17 (established by Barry Brust with the Abbotsford Heat in 2012).
Murray began his streak on Feb. 8, shutting out the Bridgeport Sound Tigers over the last 5:48 after allowing a third-period goal. Murray then recorded four consecutive shutouts – blanking Portland on Feb. 13, Providence on Feb. 21, Bridgeport on Mar. 1 and Manchester on Mar. 7. He broke Brust’s record with 2:56 gone in the second period in Springfield on Sunday
Heading into WBS’ game on Wednesday night against the Hershey Bears, Murray had allowed just two goals over his last seven starts while recording five shutouts. Like Fleury, his nine total shutouts lead the AHL and he also ranks first in goals-against average (1.57) and save percentage (.940).
Murray’s goose egg against the Sound Tigers last Sunday was his eighth of the season in just 28 appearances, setting a new team record for shutouts in a season and breaking the mark of seven Brad Thiessen set in 2010-11.
“It’s cool to see your name in the record books,” Murray said. “But I don’t really play to get shutouts. I play to try and win games. That’s the most important thing.”
Like Fleury, Murray also credited the guys in front of him for helping him out.
“The last little bit has been great for our whole team,” Murray said. “I think our team’s been really solid lately and we were always a really good defensive team, but I think the past month or so it’s been even better than normal. So I’ve definitely reaped the benefits of that.”
The 20-year-old netminder is in his first full season as a pro, and while the transition certainly appears seamless – especially when looking at his numbers – Murray said he’s had a lot to learn.
He credited Penguins goaltender development coach Mike Buckley for helping him develop all aspects of his game. On the ice, the biggest adjustment for the 6-foot-4 goaltender has been controlling his depth and getting out further on clear shots.
“I feel like in junior, I’m a pretty big guy so I was able to play deeper and maybe read the pass a little bit more and still get away with it if the guy shot,” Murray said. “But in pros, shots are so much better and earlier in the year, I found myself getting beat clean on a lot of shots. That’s something I had to adjust to.”
Off the ice, Buckley has given Murray a lot of mental exercises to work on, as that part of the game is just as important as the physical side.
“For me, what I try to do is I try to take it one day at a time and during a game, I try to take it one shot at a time and one read at a time and really not try to get too far ahead of myself,” Murray said. “Which is very cliché, but it’s really the best way to do it because you just focus on one play and one shot, you kind of just take it one at a time and you don’t get too far ahead of yourself. You’re always in the moment. I think that’s big, being in the moment.”