The Pittsburgh Penguins could be in trouble in goal. The Penguins thought that Matt Murray was their goalie of the future and he excelled in his first two seasons, winning the Stanley Cup in both.
It allowed the Penguins to have no trouble in letting Marc-Andre Fleury go to Vegas in the expansion draft. The Penguins had a 23-year-old goaltender who had his named etched on the Stanley Cup in his first two seasons in the NHL and with a future that was bright.
But cracks appeared in Murray’s game last season and he did not have the safety net of Fleury being there to help him out or just take over. Murray went from a 2.00 GAA in his first year (albeit in just 13 regular season games) to 2.41 in his real rookie season and his save percentage dropped from .930 to .923.
As the cracks appeared last season, there was a further drop in save percentage to a below average .907 while his GAA rose to 2.91. His win total went from 32 to 27 in an equal amount of 49 games but most pundits thought it was nothing to be concerned about.
Well there is concern now. Murray leaves the weekend with a 4.08 GAA and a .877 save percentage as he hit a new low on Saturday, giving up three goals on 10 shots before he was pulled after the first period. Murray has given up 16 goals in his last 94 shots spanning four games (and only 174 minutes as he was pulled in two of the four games).
Look for Casey DeSmith to get a real shot as he has outplayed Murray who must be severely lacking confidence at this point of the season.
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DALLAS 6 NEW YORK ISLANDERS 2
Defenseman Esa Lindell scored twice as did Alexander Radulov as the Dallas Stars beat the New York Islanders 6-2. It was a big game for the Stars top unit of Radulov, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn as the trio combined for nine points with each picking up three points.
The Islanders took an early 1-0 lead as Anthony Beauvillier scored his fifth of the season and fourth in the last two games. It was the lone goal of the opening frame.
Lindell scored his second of the season to get the Stars on the board with Seguin and Benn drawing the assists and then Roope Hintz potted the first goal of his NHL career to give the Stars a 2-1 lead.
Lindell gave the Stars a 3-1 lead with his second of the season and that was the end for Thomas Greiss who stopped 16 of the 19 shots sent his way. Robin Lehner took over and went the rest of the way.
Tyler Seguin also scored in the second as the Stars scored four times to put the game away.
Scott Mayfield scored his third of the season just 16 seconds into the third but that was it for the Islanders as Radulov scored twice to ice the game.
Ben Bishop made 37 shots for his eighth win of the season.
Jason Spezza had a pair of assists to give him 13 points this season in 20 games after picking up only 26 points in 78 games last season.
Lindell, Radulov and Benn were each a plus-three while Nick Leddy was a minus-three.
CAROLINA 2 NEW JERSEY 1
The Carolina Hurricanes scored twice in the first 30 seconds of the game and then held on to beat New Jersey 2-1.
Pavel Zacha cut the lead in half at the 6:33 mark of the first. It was his second goal in two games after he had gone the first 12 games of the season with nary a point. Zacha was the sixth overall pick in 2015 and he has been slow to the show with a couple of tough seasons but this could be the breakthrough the Devils have been waiting for.
McElhinney made 33 saves and could be in line for more starts as Scott Darling has disappointed of late and Petr Mrazek is injured. It was his fourth win of the season and first since October 13. McElhinney starred last season in a backup role for Toronto as he was 11-5-1 with a 2.15 GAA and a .934 save percentage.
Cory Schneider stopped 23 shots and has gone since December 27 of last season without a regular season win.
CHICAGO 3 MINNESOTA 1
Corey Crawford was sensational as he turned aside 39 shots to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild.
Crawford picked up his fifth win of the season for Chicago who are 2-0-2 in their last four games and evened their record at 8-8-5 this season.
Zach Parise cut the lead in half in the second period with a power play goal. It was his ninth goal of the season with Mikko Koivu and Matt Dumba drawing the assists. Koivu has been on a tear lately with 12 points in his last eight games.
Alex Stalock got the start for Minnesota who were playing the backend of back-to-back games. He made 25 saves on 27 shots in taking the loss.
Kane had a pair of assists for Chicago.
Dumba had seven shots on goal while Duncan Keith led both teams with five blocked shots.
VEGAS 6 EDMONTON 3
The Edmonton Oilers are reeling. They lost their sixth game in the last seven starts, this time to the Vegas Golden Knights who whipped them 6-3.
Jonathan Marchessault led the way for the Golden Knights with two goals and one assist while Reilly Smith had a goal and two assists. William Karlsson scored his fifth of the season after scoring 43 last year and added an assist.
Cody Eakin and Max Pacioretty completed the scoring for the Golden Knights who managed to put only 25 shots on Cam Talbot. It was only the third goal of the season for the former Canadien, Pacioretty.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves for Vegas as he improved his record to 10-8-1. He has been inconsistent of late as he has given up two, three, five, none and four goals in his previous five starts.
Connor McDavid opened the scoring with his 12th of the season but that would be the only time he would hit the scoreboard. He led both teams with six shots on goal while William Carrier and Marchessault each had five for Vegas.
Talbot made 25 saves on 31 shots and it could be time for Mikko Kostinen to get the net and see what he is capable of doing as the Oilers are losing contact with the pack for a playoff spot with a 9-10-1 record.
Nate Schmidt played his first game this season for Vegas as he completed his 20 game suspension for using an illegal substance.
COLORADO 4 ANAHEIM 3 (Overtime)
Mikko Rantanen scored the overtime winner to give the Avalanche a 4-3 win over Anaheim. It was Rantanen’s third point of the night as he set up linemates Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog as Colorado fought back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Ducks.
Ryan Miller was strong in the Ducks cage as he made 38 saves but it was not enough to give Anaheim the win.
The line of Rantanen, MacKinnon and Landeskog combined for eight points as MacKinnon also had a goal and two helpers while Landeskog had one of each.
Rantanen leads the NHL with 32 points, three ahead of his teammate MacKinnon. MacKinnon also had seven shots on goal as did Tyson Barrie.