OTTAWA — Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan kept the identity of his goalie quiet before finally revealing it on Friday.
It will be Matt Murray between the pipes when the Penguins and Ottawa Senators meet in the crucial Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Murray gave up one goal on 20 shots in relief in Game 3 while seeing his first postseason action since guiding Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup in 2016. He was tabbed over Marc-Andre Fleury, who had started every playoff game for the Penguins this spring but was yanked in Game 3 after giving up four goals on the nine shots he faced.
“That’s been a hard decision for this coaching staff all year long,” Sullivan told reporters Friday morning. “As I said yesterday, it’s a good difficult decision to have because we have two guys who are as capable as they are. Both of these guys have helped this team win all year long.
“They’re both high-quality people and they’re high-quality goaltenders. We never take these decisions lightly. They’re extremely difficult decisions. This is the choice that we made for Game 4.”
Murray had been sidelined with a lower-body injury prior to his return on Wednesday.
“It felt good to be back in there, but at the same time, I don’t think I would say I needed (the work),” Murray said. “You don’t need to play all the time to be good. You have to play like you haven’t missed a beat, with no hesitation.”
The Senators, who will be looking to extend their home winning streak to five games, are just two victories from getting to their first Stanley Cup finals in a decade. They are surprising a lot of people with a 10-5 record in the playoffs but not themselves.
“I think I’d be lying to you if I told you I would have bet the house on it, but, no, we’re a confident group,” Senators defenseman Chris Wideman said. “We believe in ourselves to the fullest extent.”
Ottawa winger Bobby Ryan said the 5-1 victory over the defending champs in Game 3 on Wednesday will not disrupt the Senators’ focus on the present.
“I don’t want to say last game was a statement or anything,” Ryan said. “I think we had a good start and they had a poor one. You certainly take that for what it’s worth, and you move on because Game 4 is not going to be that. It’s not going to happen again.
“They’re a veteran team. They’re a team that’s been through it. They’ll recognize that, and they’re going to have a push. So we’ll be ready.”
Meanwhile, the Penguins will try again to solve Senators goalie Craig Anderson, against whom they have just three goals in three games.
“I think the chances have been there,” said Penguins center Sidney Crosby, who scored his first goal of the series in the third period Wednesday. “We’ve hit some posts and had some good looks. So, I think just make sure we’re hungry.
“I think, when it’s not going in for you, you’ve just got to keep it simple and make sure you keep getting pucks to the net, keep getting guys there, and make sure we’re competing in and around the net.”