Murray’s Penalty Shot Stop of McDavid a ‘Game Changer’

Pens goalie says he stopped ‘the best player in the world’

Josh Rowntree
February 14, 2019 - 12:24 am
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (30) makes a save on a penalty shot by Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) during the second period at PPG PAINTS Arena.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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Late in the second period, clinging to a 2-1 lead, Penguins goalie Matt Murray made, perhaps, his signature stop of the season.

After Edmonton star Connor McDavid was hauled down shortly after a Penguins power play expired, Murray was faced with the task of stopping, arguably, the game’s top talent on a penalty shot. 

And he did, catapulting the Penguins to a 3-1 win over a desperate Edmonton group that has now lost eight of its last nine games.

"He's got 100 different moves in his arsenal,” Murray said of McDavid. “He's the best player in the world. You watch some things, but you don’t want to get locked in.

“I just wanted to stay aggressive, stay patient, like always. He’s really good at the move he did there, where he comes in on his forehand and drags it to the middle. I just tried to battle, stay aggressive and stay patient and let him make the first move. I got lucky.”

Luck may have played somewhat of a role, but a stop is a stop. And it was one that provided a boost to the Penguins bench.

“It was a huge save against one of the best players in the world,” Penguins forward Teddy Blueger said. “It was kind of a situation in the game where it could’ve gone either way. But that was one of the pivotal points that allowed us to win.”

“That was a big momentum play,” forward Bryan Rust added. “It just fed the energy throughout our bench and we just played hard from there.”

The save was not only meaningful in terms of the game, but it also prevented another goal with the Penguins power play unit on the ice, as the man-advantage had just expired when McDavid corralled the puck. The Penguins lead the NHL in shorthanded goals.

“That’s a big turning point,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “If that goes in, late in the period, like that, it’s a big shift in momentum. So to get that save was huge. 

“At the end of the power play, like that, we don’t get one and for them to come back the other way and possibly get one, that would’ve been tough. He made a huge save there to keep the lead.”

Murray has made 88 saves on 90 shots over the last two games, both Pittsburgh wins. While Mike Sullivan has been pleased with the low goal total, he does acknowledge that Murray has been a failsafe behind the defense. 

“When we do break down and we give up a quality chance, Matt’s making good saves for us,” Sullivan said. “I thought the penalty shot save he made on mcDavid was a game changer. He’s been real solid.”

Over the years, Penguins fans have chanted “Fleury, Fleury” quite often, in recognition of former Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. But Murray’s name, despite his success — with two rings already — has not been shouted through PPG Paints Arena nearly as often. Moments like the stop on McDavid will help.

“You want to be the guy that’s making saves back there for your team,” Murray said. “It feels good to do that, for sure. Hopefully it gave us a little bit of momentum. And then you just try to forget about it and move onto the next one.”

Hear all of what Penguins goalie Matt Murray had to say below.