PHILADELPHIA — The Penguins had two points in their grasp. They led the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 with less than four minutes remaining in the game and they were in control. Yet they lost, 4-3 in overtime.
Penguins goalie Matt Murray couldn’t hide his dejection. He sat in his locker stall, head down. He answered media questions not with disgust or his sometimes customary shortness, but with words dripped in disappointment.
The Penguins had it in their grasp, yet only got a point.
“Most of that was on me. I feel like shit for that last one,” Murray said. We believe Murray was referring to the tying goal, not the game-winner in overtime but the OT goal wasn’t a beauty either.
In the final 20 seconds, Jakub Voracek shot the puck towards the net from the corner. It somehow trickled past Murray. It was a shot that wouldn’t go in, 99 of 100 times. But it did and the game was suddenly tied.
And then in overtime, Claude Giroux’s wrist shot got under Murray’s pads. Game over. Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.
“We battled hard. Tough conditions. Two D got down and our D did an unbelievable job all night,” Murray said. “It sucks. It sucks not to get that extra point.”
Murray tried to put a positive spin on the effort, even as his voice trailed off, as if unable to force enough conviction to finish the sentence.
“We played really well and we should feel good about ourselves,” he said softly.
Murray’s game was the latest setback in a season full of obstacles, fits and starts and disappointing moments, especially for Murray. His season has been up and down from the start. He’s been back to the drawing board, back to basics, given extended rests, injured, looked great, stolen games and this one…which he felt like he gave away.
In such a turbulent season, Murray’s eight-game win streak from mid-December to January seems a lifetime ago. This season, there has been precious little “middle”. It’s been amazing or terrible. It’s been way up and then way down and back again.
“Well, obviously, we’d like to see him bring a little more consistency to his game. It’s going to help us down the stretch here, but Matt is a very good goalie and we believe in him,” said head coach Mike Sullivan.
The first part of the sentence before the stock answer kicked in is probably the biggest truth. The Penguins never needed Murray to steal games, but this version of the Penguins can’t afford to lose those points, either.