Malkin’s hat trick pow­ers Pen­guins past Sharks

Ripon Bulletin - - Sports -

PITTS­BURGH (AP) — Matt Mur­ray wanted to feel a sense of nor­malcy, so the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins goalie went back to work Tues­day night for the first time since his fa­ther, James, died this month.

“I just tried to come in and for­get about the fact I hadn’t played in a while and try to get lost in the game,” Mur­ray said.

There were no out­ward signs of emo­tion. No tears. That’s sim­ply not the un­der­stated Mur­ray’s way. Look­ing as sharp as he has all sea­son, the 23-year-old Mur­ray stopped 40 shots in a 5-2 vic­tory over the San Jose Sharks, in­clud­ing a hand­ful of spec­tac­u­lar stops early that kept the Pen­guins in it long enough to rally for their eighth win in 10 games.

“Matt’s a ma­ture kid,” Pitts­burgh coach Mike Sul­li­van said. “He’s grounded. I think he has good per­spec­tive on where he’s at and the op­por­tu­nity in front of him.”

Mur­ray took a leave of ab­sence fol­low­ing his fa­ther’s death on Jan. 16. He re­turned last week but stayed out of the lineup while rookie Casey DeSmith filled in ca­pa­bly as the two-time de­fend­ing Stan­ley Cup cham­pi­ons have slowly pulled them­selves out of an early-sea­son funk.

By Tues­day morn­ing, Mur­ray was ready to go and he re­sponded by look­ing very much like the player who back­stopped the Pen­guins to con­sec­u­tive cham­pi­onships, in­clud­ing a six-game tri­umph over San Jose in the 2016 Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal.

“We try to sup­port him and know it’s huge game for him and hope it gives him a lit­tle like push, lit­tle bit of con­fi­dence,” cen­ter Ev­geni Malkin said.

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