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The starting goalie question returns

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

It's a familiar script by now. Which Pens goaltender will start for Pittsburgh? 

Matt Murray, who has started the past eight games, lost Games 3 and 4 to Nashville and the Stanley Cup Final is even at 2-2. He surrendered eight goals in those two contests and it marked the first time in Murray's career that he's lost back-to-back playoff games.

Marc-Andre Fleury was the team's starting goaltender during the opening two playoff rounds, topping the Columbus Blue Jackets and Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington Capitals.

The Pens already made a switch in goal after Fleury allowed four goals in a single period against Ottawa in the Eastern Conference Final. So it isn't out of question for the team to make another change.

That question was given to head coach Mike Sullivan following the Game 4 loss.

"Lineup decisions or whatever, we just finished the game about a minute and a half ago," he said.

After sleeping on it, Sullivan was asked again the following day. Once again, he did not name his starter, but did have a cryptic response: "We haven't lost games because of our goaltending. That's my thought."

Murray gave his own assessment of his performance in the past two games.

"I thought I was OK in Game 3, obviously not great. I thought I was pretty good in Game 4," he said. "I think if I make a save on that breakaway then it's a different game. All in all, I thought I played pretty well."

That breakaway goal Murray referred to was against Viktor Arvidsson at 13:08 of the second period that gave Nashville a 3-1 lead. On the play Arvidsson deked before beating Murray on the glove side.

Murray has been beaten three times on his glove side in the past two games, but shrugged off suggestions from the media that his glove hand is a weakness.

"Not really, to be honest," he said. "I work on everything. I work on my entire game. If they want to shoot glove, then I say, 'Go ahead. Shoot glove.'"

The Pens are in the very fortunate situation of having two No. 1 goalies on the roster. And two goalies that have each won Stanley Cups in their careers. Both netminder's numbers in the postseason has been almost identical.

Murray: 9GP - 5-3 record - 2.08 GAA - .925 save % - 1 shutout

Fleury: 15GP - 9-6 record - 2.56 GAA - .924 save % - 2 shutouts

Regardless of which goalie starts, the duo knows how to handle the situation.

"Like (we have) all year. It's nothing new for us," Fleury said. "We just encourage each other when the other one plays."

In the meantime, Fleury uses practice and workouts to stay sharp in case he does get the call in the future.

"It's out of my hands," Fleury said of the coach's decision. "I just have to stay ready with practices. If they need me, I'll be there."

Sullivan typically doesn't name his starting goaltender until after the team's morning skate. So fans and the media have to patiently wait until Thursday afternoon to find out the answer.

Although the two goalies may already know the answer.

"Even if I did, I wouldn't tell you," Murray said with a smile. 

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