Eyebrows instinctively raise when Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray misses a game with an injury. Murray has missed time with nine previous injuries in the equivalent of three full seasons. And so when Murray did not dress Thursday night in Florida, there was a concern and wonder how much time Murray would miss.
It appears to be just one game.
Murray was a “full-go” at practice on Friday and took the morning skate, Saturday morning. However, backup Casey DeSmith who started and stole a point in Florida will start against the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning. DeSmith was the first goalie off the ice at the morning skate.
DeSmith stopped 39 of 42 shots which got the Penguins to overtime and a valuable “loser” point as Florida defenseman Mike Matheson scored with less than one minute remaining in overtime. He was increasingly steady Thursday.
DeSmith has faced 40 or more shots in his last two starts, including Feb. 1 against Ottawa, and head coach Mike Sullivan has noticed.
“Casey has played extremely well. If you look at Casey’s numbers at this point–he’s played over 30 games–his save percentage is top-10 in the league,” said head coach Mike Sullivan. “His last two outings, he’s had a .929, .925 save percentage. He’s giving us a chance to win.”
The 27-year-old goalie is 13-9-5 with a .918 save percentage and a 2.69 goals against average. The Penguins rewarded DeSmith with a three-year contract earlier this season.
“We think this is the best decision for both guys at this time,” Sullivan said.
Emergency Recall Tristan Jarry did not participate in the morning skate. Jarry must be returned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League if Murray is available.
Yesterday after practice, Murray addressed his injury history.
“It is what it is. It’s part of the game. It’s a fast game out there and things happen,” Murray said. “I don’t think it’s worth getting frustrated over.”
Murray also said he would be able to play on the road trip, which concludes Monday in Philadelphia.