CRANBERRY TOWSHIP, Pa. – It turns out there is a reason the Pittsburgh Penguins have turned so heavily to backup goaltender Casey DeSmith – who, for the time being, won’t be the backup anymore. Matt Murray was placed in injured reserve Thursday because of a lower-body injury that coach Mike Sullivan said would keep him out longer term.
“This is something that he’s been dealing with for a couple of weeks,” Sullivan said. “The decision hockey was made this morning to rest him and see if that gives him an opportunity to heal.”
The Penguins will recall goaltender Tristan Jarry.
Murray, as has been widely chronicled, is off his game. He is 4-5-1 and his 4.08 goals-against average and .877 save percentage are uncharacteristically poor. He was pulled in his last start,
Monday Saturday against Ottawa, Sullivan opted on Wednesday to go with DeSmith, who got the win in a 5-1 victory over Dallas.
Sullivan said Murray’s need to go on IR and be out for a while came as a surprise. Murray, of course, never let on publicly that he was dealing with any physical issues.
“That’s just the type of person that he is,” Sullivan said. “He’s a real competitive guy. Everybody’s fighting through bumps and bruises, but everybody in this scenario, he’s fighting through it, trying to capture his game. He knows how important he is to our team. It just speaks volumes for the type of person that he is.”
DeSmith, who has been getting a heavier than usual workload for a backup, is 4-3-3 with a 2.39 goals-against average, a .924 save percentage and two shutouts.
“I’m just going to try and keep doing what I always do,” DeSmith said. “It’s been working out pretty well for me.”
Jarry had a strong training camp but was sent to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League in large part because DeSmith also played well and Jarry did not need waivers to be sent down. He is being recalled on an emergency basis.
Jarry is 4-5-2 with a 2.89 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage this season. He also is noteworthy for having scored a goal.
“He’s played extremely well. He had a good training camp,” Sullivan said. “We believe (DeSmith and Jarry) are capable guys. We trust these guys. We believe they can help us win games.”
In addition to Murray, center Derek Grant also missed practice because of a maintenance day, and defenseman Olli Maatta wore a non-contact jersey for what Sullivan explained as a precaution for some bumps and bruises.
All others – including defenseman Juuso Riikola, who took a big, late hit Wednesday from Brett Ritchie but later returned to the game; and center Evgeni Malkin, who took a maintenance day away from practice Tuesday – were at practice.
The team was scheduled to fly to Boston after practice and will have a Thanksgiving dinner.
The schedule gets busy, with back-to-back games Friday against the Bruins and Saturday at home against Columbus, then back-to-back road games Tuesday and Wednesday at Winnipeg and Colorado.
The Penguins have not played on successive nights this season.
The lines looked like this:
Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Patric Hornqvist
Tanner Pearson-Evgeni Malkin-Phil Kessel
Zach Aston-Reese-Derick Brassard-Dominik Simon
Bryan Rust-Riley Sheahan-Daniel Sprong
Brian Dumoulin-Kris Letang
Olli Maatta-Juuso Riikola
Jack Johnson-Jamie Oleksiak
Chad Ruhwedel rotated in
Editors Note: We corrected the day and opponent of Murray’s last start.