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.