Coming off a loss, the Pittsburgh Penguins (10-3-2) put together a solid performance Saturday night and pulled off a 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs (6-5-3). Matt Murray got the nod in net this evening from head coach Mike Sullivan, and the goaltender made 34 saves on 35 shots.
Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby had a goal apiece, and defenseman Kris Letang finished the game with two assists. Saturday’s game was dominated by the Penguins’ offense, which set the game’s tempo.
The Maple Leafs’ offense only worked in sputters. Toronto’s sole goal came from Zach Hyman in the first period.
The Penguins’ Bryan Rust had a goal and an assist plus six shots, and he had a few hits to cap off a big turnaround game.
Not only was the Penguins’ forecheck improved from their last game (a loss to the Minnesota Wild), but their defense looked much more confident.
Malkin really kicked this offense into high gear starting in the second period during a powerplay. He hauled in a puck that bounced off the wall behind the net and wristed it past Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen.
Chris Kunitz gave Pittsburgh the 2-1 lead with just 17 seconds left in the second period when he cleaned up a sloppy rebound.
Once the third period began, Pittsburgh looked more focused and was completely dominant, getting two more goals to pad its lead.
Is Murray the Future?
Saturday, Murray played yet another great game in net — granted, he didn’t face one of the more potent offenses in the league. And he certainly didn’t help himself by giving up an early goal and putting himself in a bit of a hole. But, considering that Toronto is a shoot-happy team — much like the Penguins — he did have to bring his best game, and the Maple Leafs weren’t able to get past one of the best goalies in the league.
Tonight’s game also marked his 11th straight regular season win, and he has a record of 4-0-0 so far this season.
One noticeable thing: It seems to take Murray a while to warm up. While Saturday — and for a large part of his young career (remember, he’s still just 22) — he’s improved as games go on, the slow starts could eventually bite him.
Regardless, Saturday night’s performance further makes the argument that Murray should be Pittsburgh’s goalie long-term, not veteran Marc-Andre Fleury. It’ll be a very difficult decision for general manager Jim Rutherford to make, but, either way, he’ll still have a goalie capable of taking the team to another Stanley Cup Final.
Next, the Pittsburgh Penguins will visit the Washington Capitals to begin a quick three-game road trip. The game against the Capitals will begin at 7:30 p.m. EST this Wednesday.
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