Ottawa Senators left wing Mike Hoffman (68) celebrates after scoring against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period of game three of the Eastern Conference final in the NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoffs in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 17, 2017.The Ottawa Senators didn't expect to blow out the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final.
The Penguins trail the best-of-7 series 2-1 and are looking for a spark after starting poorly in Game 3.
"It's so tight", Predators head coach Peter Laviolette said after a one-goal win over Anaheim earlier this week. "This is the choice that we made for Game 4".
"There's so many good players nowadays that can score very easily or make plays with not much time and space - that's really what we try and focus on in here is to key in on their good guys and not give them odd-man rushes", Ottawa's Mike Hoffman said.
Murray helped the Penguins to a championship last spring after Fleury was diagnosed with a concussion. It was Murray's first game since April 6, which was also his last start prior to suffering a lower-body injury that kept him out until his recent return as Fleury's backup.
The Ottawa-Pittsburgh victor will face either Nashville or Anaheim in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Those three goals came in a span of 2:18, which is a new franchise record in the playoffs to beat the previous mark of four minutes set in 2002 against Toronto. Murray had his own net upon the Penguins taking the ice on Friday morning while he and Tristan Jarry previously split a net on Thursday with Fleury minding his own. He stopped 19 of 20 shots in 47 minutes.
"Each time I've gotten hurt, I've come back stronger and that's all you can do", Murray said Thursday after practice at the University of Ottawa. "Either way, I have to be ready". That's how I kind of, like, look at it. "I would've said before the game it was going to be a one-goal game".
"I think just throughout the league it's so tight now", Senators winger Clarke MacArthur told The Canadian Press.
The situation was reversed last season when Fleury missed the beginning of the playoffs because of a concussion and Murray took over as the Penguins' No. 1 goalie. He called a couple of the bounces the Senators received "flukey" and is eager for a chance to go back to work.
The 27-year-old, who had played in only one NHL post-season previously, thought the rush of one-goal games might be the result of teams trying to limit mistakes against high-powered opponents with simple hockey.
The cloudy goaltending situation has overshadowed another troubling trend that has nothing to do with who is in net.
Craig Anderson will start for the Senators at the other end, however. However, with Matt Murray healthy, Fleury's leash will probably be short through the rest of the postseason. Compare that to the first meeting between the teams this year when Pittsburgh won 8-5 shootout in November. Detroit led the league with 45. He even chose to go with seven defensemen in for Game 3 and could do so again in Game 4. Both players were held out of the lineup for Game 3 with upper-body injuries.