Matt Murray will start for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers against the Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the Eastern Conference hub city, on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).
The 26-year-old goalie shared the starting role with Tristan Jarry throughout much of the regular season before it was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. Murray and Jarry competed throughout training camp until coach Mike Sullivan named Murray, who won the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2016 and 2017, the starter on Saturday.
The Penguins, the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, face the Canadiens, the No. 12 seed, in one of eight best-of-5 series in the Qualifiers. The winner will advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the loser will have a chance at the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft as part of Phase 2 of the NHL Draft Lottery on Aug. 10.
“We believe we have two great goalies,” Sullivan said. “Both of these guys are going to give us a chance to win. Matt has obviously shown an ability to be at his best when the stakes are high. That certainly should provide some confidence for him going into a playoff environment like this.
“We’re fortunate to have the guys that we have. Matt has certainly shown an ability to be at his best at this time of year. We’ll take each game as it comes, but we feel good about the goaltending tandem that we have.”
Jarry will be the backup.
Murray made 10 saves on 12 shots in 29:55 of a 3-2 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in an exhibition game on Tuesday. Jarry made nine saves on 10 shots in 32:45 of relief.
In his fifth NHL season, Murray was 20-11-5 with a 2.87 goals-against average, an NHL career-low .899 save percentage and one shutout in 38 starts. Jarry, who was named to the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game, was 20-12-1 with a 2.43 GAA, .921 save percentage and three shutouts in 33 games (31 starts).
Goalie Carey Price will start for the Canadiens. He was 27-25-6 with a 2.79 GAA, .909 save percentage and four shutouts in 58 starts this season.
Oilers 50/50 sales close early with 'historic, record-setting' $5.4M-jackpot – CTV Edmonton
Sales for the Edmonton Oilers’ online 50/50 closed eight hours earlier than expected after what the team is calling “historic, record-setting sales.”
After Monday’s total pot hit just over $3 million between 9 a.m. and the 10:30 p.m. deadline, Albertans bought $5,417,130 worth of tickets by 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“Our online 50/50 service provider continues to upgrade server capacity to improve fan experience,” the Oilers said. “The volume of purchasers has been unprecedented. You should expect improvements in the very immediate future as we chase yet another 50/50 record. We will work diligently to address the maximum ticket issue in advance of Friday’s game to give Oilers fans every opportunity to support the raffle.”
The winning number for the $2,708,565-jackpot, which the Oilers are calling a world record, will be posted online no later than 11:30 p.m.
The program supports the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation.
The Oilers are facing the Chicago Blackhawks at 8:30 p.m. The best-of-5 series is tied 1-1.
Sales for Friday’s jackpot will go live at 9 a.m. Albertans can purchase tickets online.
Maple Leafs' Muzzin discharged from hospital, out for rest of series – theScore
He will be unavailable for the remainder of the team’s qualifying-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets due to injury, but he will remain in quarantine within the hotel.
Late in Game 2 on Tuesday, Muzzin was cross-checked from behind by Blue Jackets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois. The hit caused Muzzin to awkwardly fall face-first into the leg of Columbus winger Oliver Bjorkstrand.
The league reportedly won’t look into supplementary discipline for Dubois.
The series is tied heading into Game 3, which will take place Thursday at 8 p.m. ET.
Maple Leafs’ task gets tougher with Muzzin out for Blue Jackets series – Sportsnet.ca
TORONTO – Let us first state the obvious here: there is nothing more important than Jake Muzzin’s health, which is why it’s tremendous news the Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman was able to return to the team hotel from hospital after being stretchered off the ice Tuesday.
That tells us his condition is not as critical as it looked during the scary quiet 10 minutes it took to get him safely loaded on the stretcher late in a Game 2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
However, if Muzzin is to play again this season, the Leafs must now win two of the next three games without him in order to advance beyond their qualifying-round series.
And so the task gets tougher.
The team didn’t provide any specifics on the nature of Muzzin’s injury, but announced Wednesday that he would be unavailable for the balance of the best-of-five with Columbus. The defenceman fell awkwardly after being cross-checked in the back by Pierre-Luc Dubois and crashing head-first into Oliver Bjorkstrand.
He had to be taken from the NHL’s secure zone to be examined at hospital and was discharged overnight, returning to the Royal York to observe quarantine in his hotel room while recovering.
Muzzin is a central figure in what the Leafs are and hope to be. The 31-year-old handles difficult minutes on the shutdown pairing with Justin Holl, kills penalties and serves as an off-ice conscience of the group.
Sheldon Keefe urged him to take on an even greater presence in the dressing room after signing a $22.5-million, four-year contract extension in February – noting that it removed any question about his standing within the organization.
The next day, Muzzin spoke candidly with reporters about what was holding the Leafs back from becoming the kind of Stanley Cup contender they hoped to be.
“The core of the team needs to take a jump consistently,” he said before a Feb. 25 game in Tampa. “We can’t have it one night and not the next. That’s everyone and that’s bringing along the younger core as well. We have to give them no option but to come with us.”
The way the Leafs played in Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over the Jackets suggests they’ve grown in the intervening months. It was arguably their most complete performance of the season, with a decided edge in even-strength shot attempts (61 per cent), expected goals (67.3 per cent) and high-danger scoring chances (75 per cent).
Most importantly, they limited the Blue Jackets to just 20 shots against.
Replicating that effort in Thursday’s Game 3 will be difficult without Muzzin, who will likely be replaced in the lineup by veteran utilityman Martin Marincin. He hasn’t appeared in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since the 2017 series against Washington, when he was on the ice for both goals against in a 2-1 loss in Game 6.
Marincin spent most of the next season in the American Hockey League – winning a Calder Cup with Keefe and several of his current Leafs teammates – and has remained in the organization as a depth option on a series of league-minimum one-year contracts.
What he does especially well is suppress shots on the penalty kill, which will be useful if there are as many specialty teams situations as we saw in Game 2. It’s unlikely the Slovak would be trusted with Muzzin’s minutes at 5-on-5.
Livestream the Maple Leafs in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, plus every game of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Sportsnet NOW.
An intriguing option for those is Travis Dermott, who stepped in alongside Holl when Muzzin suffered a broken hand earlier this season. That proved to be one of the stronger stretches of the season for him.
We’ll get a better idea about Keefe’s plans when the Leafs practice later Wednesday afternoon.
There isn’t much time to make contingency plans with Games 3 and 4 scheduled back-to-back on Thursday and Friday, followed by a potential series-deciding Game 5 on Sunday.
Perhaps this will serve as a rallying point for the Leafs. Muzzin is an incredibly popular teammate, the kind of guy who leads even without having a letter sewn on his sweater.
There had to be some relief among the players in finding out that his injury wasn’t season-ending, especially after the shock of seeing him stretchered off. Now they have to win enough games in order to buy Muzzin the time needed to get back in the lineup.
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