The goaltending situation for the Pens has cleared up, slightly.
Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion) has been ruled out of tonight’s Game 3 showdown between the Pens and New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Fleury, who did not take part in the team’s optional morning skate, is still listed by the team as day-to-day.
Matt Murray (upper-body) did take part in the optional skate. And, according to head coach Mike Sullivan, is an option for the game as well.
“Matt Murray is an option for tonight,” Sullivan said.
Murray was joined by Jeff Zatkoff, who has started in Games 1 and 2 of the series, and Tristan Jarry, who has served as his backup, on the ice for the optional skate. Zatkoff was the first goaltender off, though at this time of year that doesn’t really mean much.
Notable absences at the skate were Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Phil Kessel, Nick Bonino, Kris Letang and Fleury.
The Pens lost the “home-ice advantage” after dropping Game 2 in Pittsburgh and hope to reclaim that advantage by stealing one of the next two games in New York. The series sits at 1-1 heading into Game 3 tonight.
“We came to New York and of course we want to win,” Malkin said. “It’s a very important game. We know the Rangers are good at Madison. But we have a good team, too. It’s a big fight tonight. I’m excited to play, and we’ll see who is better.”
MALKIN “COMING BACK”
Evgeni Malkin (upper-body) returned to the Pens’ lineup in Game 2 after missing 16 straight games and 26 of 34. He played primarily on the wing and did not take any faceoffs.
Malkin was not happy with his performance, but feels that his game is starting to come around.
“I watched my game (in Game 2) and it’s so-so,” Malkin said. “I talked to coach. I think my game is coming back. The first game is a little bit tough. But I think it’s coming back. I believe (in Game 3) I will play better.”
Malkin said prior to Game 2 that his shooting and strength wasn’t quite 100 percent. But he believes he is in a much better place heading into Game 3.
“I feel my legs, my stick, everything is coming back,” Malkin said. “I didn’t play for a long time. I lost my hands. Now it’s all back. I’m controlling the puck more. I’ll play center the whole game and try to show my best game.”
Malkin said he feels comfortable taking faceoffs in Game 3.
“I (worked on it) yesterday,” Malkin said. “It’s not a problem.”
THIS N’ AT
*NY Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (upper-body) took part in the Rangers’ optional morning skate. Head coach Alain Vigneault said, “Ryan’s going to meet with our doctors this afternoon, and from there they’ll make a decision. I said doubtful yesterday and a little higher than I said yesterday.”
*Coach Sullivan on Carl Hagelin: “He’s been invaluable for us. He improves our team speed. He plays in a lot of situations. … I think he’s improved our team in so many different ways since we got him.”
*Sullivan on Olli Maatta: “He’s played valuable minutes for us. We believe in him. We know he’s a good player. When you play the type of mintues that Olli plays, sometimes you’re going to make mistakes. That’s part of the game. It’s how you respond to those mistakes that’s important to us.”
*Sullivan on hits: “Do we want to be a team that’s physical? Sure we do. That’s part of being hard to play against. But I think we can’t get carried away with that, because that’s not who we are, that’s not the type of team that this team has become. Our identity is in our speed, quickness and pursuit.”
*Conor Sheary on playing with Malkin: “When he has the puck he makes things happen. At the same time I want to use my speed and play my game. I think he’s going to help me be a better player out there.”