Pens goalie Matt Murray out 'week to week' with lower-body injury
Head coach Mike Sullivan turns to inexperienced Tristan Jarry, Casey DeSmith
Mike Sullivan might soon add "experienced NHL goalie" to his Christmas wish list.
The Pittsburgh Penguins head coach told reporters on Tuesday that starter Matt Murray will be out week to week with a lower-body injury.
At Sullivan's disposal for Friday's game at Buffalo will be relative unknowns Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith, who have combined for five NHL regular-season appearances.
A few months ago, Pittsburgh rode the strong play of veteran puckstopper Marc-Andre Fleury and Murray to back-to-back Stanley Cup titles.
Murray had to be helped off the ice during Monday night's 5-4 overtime win over visiting Philadelphia after his right leg was pinned against the post by Flyers forward Jakub Voracek, who had lost an edge on a breakaway. The Penguins placed Murray on injured reserve Tuesday, meaning he must remain out of the lineup a minimum seven days.
Jarry stepped in at 15:39 of the second period and allowed two goals on 10 shots but made several key stops in the third.
"He's played really well when he's been in there," Penguins forward Bryan Rust told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of Jarry, who turned aside 33 of 35 shots in Saturday's 5-2 victory over the Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay Lightning. "If he goes in the net for an extended period of time, we have confidence in him."
He's only going to get stronger, he's only going to get more durable with each game that he plays.— Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan on concerns about injured goalie Matt Murray's durability
It's believed Murray's injury will keep the 23-year-old sidelined two to four weeks. He appeared in 21 of Pittsburgh's first 26 games this season, posting an 11-7-1 record, 2.95 goals-against average and .906 save percentage.
Sullivan downplayed questions about the slim six-foot-four, 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."
Last year, Murray won 32 times in 49 games with a 2.41 GAA and .923 save percentage, and has made 80 starts in his three seasons with the team. He became the de facto No. 1 goaltender when Pittsburgh lost 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.
High on Jarry
The 22-year-old Jarry, who hails from Surrey, B.C., is 2-0-2 with a 2.83 GAA and .907 save percentage in four games (three starts) for the Penguins this season. He allowed three goals on 25 shots in his lone appearance for the club in the 2016-17 campaign.
"We believe he's a solid goalie," Sullivan said of Jarry. "I think the game he played against Tampa was the perfect indication of what he's capable of."
Pittsburgh recalled DeSmith from its American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Tuesday. The 26-year-old native of Rochester, N.H., is 9-2-1 with a 2.29 GAA and .924 save percentage in 12 AHL contests this season. On Oct. 29, he made an NHL relief appearance in a 7-1 loss at Winnipeg.
"It's actually pretty wild after being goalie partners last year," DeSmith said of Jarry. "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."
The Penguins have won two straight to move into a tie for fourth with Washington in the Metropolitan Division with a 13-10-3 mark.
With files from The Associated Press