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Matt Murray named Game 6 starter for Penguins, facing elimination

TAMPA, Fla. – With their season on the line, Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan has decided to go back to rookie goalie Matt Murray after starter Marc-Andre Fleury took a loss in Game 5. 

“Matt Murray is our starting goaltender,” said Sullivan, of Tuesday's Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final at the Tampa Bay Lightning, “and the reason, just like we make all of our lineup decisions, is that we try to put players on the ice that we think try to give us the best chance to win.”

The Lightning lead the series, 3-2. 

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Murray is 9-4-1 in the playoffs, with a .923 save percentage and a 2.33 goals-against average. The last time he played in Tampa, he was pulled after giving up four goals in the first two periods, opening the door for Fleury’s Game 4 start.

Fleury gave up four goals to the Lightning, losing in overtime, in his first start since late March.

“We were dealt a tough injury to Marc, late in the season, and it’s just a tough situation,” he said. “We have to make the best decisions given the situation we’ve been dealt.”

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said his team has been impressed with the rookie’s poise. “He’s just really confident. It doesn’t seem like any situation doesn’t really phase him, or surprise him. He’s handled each challenge like he’s way beyond his years. He’s always showed a lot of poise,” he said.

Did Sullivan make the right call for Game 5? I don’t believe he did. Murray had earned the chance to win that game at home based on his overall play this postseason, and the jolt of getting Fleury back in the lineup was best left for the most desperate times.

But now, in the most desperate time, Sullivan has had to walk back his decision that Fleury gave the Penguins the best chance to win this series, putting the postseason back in the hands of Matt Murray.

“Matt has played extremely well for us. He’s won big games for us. He’s made timely saves for us. He has a calming effect on the team in front of him,” said Sullivan. “At this particular point in the season, we don’t have the luxury of allowing players to play through things.”

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Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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