Pens put Murray on injured reserve
CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP — The Pittsburgh Penguins will have to try to shake out of their early season funk without goaltender Matt Murray.
The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions placed Murray on injured reserve Tuesday with a lower-body injury.
Coach Mike Sullivan called Murray “week to week” after the 23-year-old left Monday night’s 5-4 overtime win over Philadelphia in the second period following a collision with Flyers forward Jakub Voracek.
Voracek lost his edge while finishing off a breakaway attempt and crashed into Murray, forcing the back of the goaltender’s right leg into the goal post.
Murray was on the ice for several minutes before making his way to the bench and limping down the runway to the locker room while favoring his right leg.
Tristan Jarry came in and stopped 8 of 10 shots as the Penguins rallied from a two-goal deficit to win. Jarry, a 22-year-old rookie, is 2-0-2 with a 2.83 goals-against average in limited play this season. He is expected to take over the bulk of the workload during Murray’s absence. Pittsburgh begins a home-and-home series with Buffalo on Friday. The Penguins called up Casey DeSmith from their American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to serve as Jarry’s backup.
“It’s actually pretty wild after being goalie partners last year,” DeSmith said. “It’s kind of weird just one year later (we’re in the NHL). It happened pretty quick. I’m happy to be down here with someone I’m familiar with.”
Murray is 11-7-1 with a 2.95 GAA this season. He helped the Penguins become the first franchise in nearly 20 years to win consecutive Stanley Cups in June and became the de facto No. 1 goaltender when Pittsburgh lost Marc-Andre Fleury to Vegas in the expansion draft over the summer.
Pittsburgh acquired veteran Antti Niemi to serve as Murray’s backup, but the experiment lasted less than a month before Niemi was waived due to poor play.
Sullivan downplayed questions about the slim 6-foot-4, 178-pound Murray’s durability. Murray missed time last season with a hand injury and later a concussion. His 21 appearances this season are tops in the NHL.
“Injuries are part of the game and Matt’s a young guy,” Sullivan said. “He’s only going to get stronger, he’s only going to get more durable with each game that he plays and I think he’ll be fine.”
The Penguins are tied with Washington for fourth in the Metropolitan Division more than a quarter of the way through the season. The team did get some good news on Tuesday. Center Evgeni Malkin is scheduled to travel to Buffalo and could be available after sitting out the past four games with an upper-body injury.
Defenseman Ian Cole also skated on Tuesday. Cole was a healthy scratch on Monday night amid reports the team is seeking to trade him.
“He’s part of our team, he’s a valuable piece, he’s an important part of our hockey team,” Sullivan said. “Just because a player comes out of the lineup doesn’t mean we don’t value what he brings.”
Cole admitted he’d love to be playing and considers the Penguins family.
“I try to look at it as unfortunate situation, one you can try to take advantage of and get better or you can mope around and be miserable and be a distraction for your team,” Cole said.