He entered Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final having gone 7-0 in his playoff career following a loss. He had a .935 save percentage in those games. When the Penguins were staggered in the postseason over the last two seasons, Murray was there to catch them.
Except this time they fell to the floor.
Murray followed a Game 3 loss to the Nashville Predators with another loss on Monday night, having given up three goals on 25 shots in Game 4 and eight goals on 58 shots in the two games combined.
Now, with the Penguins limping back to Pittsburgh, there were questions about Murray. Not only his play in Game 4, but his status for Game 5.
“Lineup decisions? We just finished the game about a minute and a half ago,” said coach Mike Sullivan, avoiding a question about Murray starting on Thursday night.
Murray said he wasn’t worried about Sullivan potentially pulling the trigger and bringing back Marc-Andre Fleury, the hero of the Penguins’ first two playoff rounds, for Game 5.
“No, no. I mean, you know what, I have no expectations. I say that every single time. It’s not my decision. Not my place to worry about it,” said Murray.
The three goals Murray gave up had varying degrees of concern.
Murray didn’t think Calle Jarnkrok’s rebound goal should have counted due to goalie interference, even after a coach’s challenge failed to do so. He felt Craig Smith made contact with his head, and that his stick interfered with him as well.
Murray also said he’s not optimistic that goalie interference will be called. “It hasn’t been, so that would be my assumption, going forward,” said the Penguins goalie.
The second goal was a rough one for Murray, as Freddie Gaudreau scored on a wraparound that Murray was took slow to stifle. “I thought I made a good play on it. But it just crossed the goal line,” he said.
But it was the breakaway goal from Viktor Arvidsson later in the second period that Murray wanted back the most.
“The breakaway, I maybe could have been more aggressive on it. Maybe if I make the save there, it’s a different game,” Murray said.
He didn’t make the save and, in the process, failed to do what’s been expected of him through two years with the Penguins: Putting a tourniquet on their postseason bleeding, and winning a game following a loss.
Murray should start Game 5. Logic dictates it, from his place in the organization to the way he’s played in the last two postseasons.
But what if Sullivan and his staff decided to shock the Penguins’ system with a return to Fleury, who hasn’t played since Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final? “We have confidence in all of our guys. That’s why they’re on this team. We believe in every one of them,” said Sullivan.
But Murray believes his Game 4 performance was better than the results.
“A lot of times, whether you win or lose is out of your control. Honestly, I thought I played pretty well tonight,” he said.
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