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3:59 PM - 21 Mar 2015
Penguins notebook: No definite word on when Malkin, Hornqvist will return from injuries
March 22, 2015 12:00 AM
Penguins end four-game losing streak
By Dave Molinari / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Penguins are scheduled to fly home today, and to conduct an early evening practice at Southpointe after they arrive.
Whether center Evgeni Malkin and winger Patric Hornqvist, who sat out the three-game trip that ended when the Penguins played Arizona Saturday night at Gila River Arena, will participate isn’t clear.
“They have skated on their own, obviously, back home,” coach Mike Johnston said Saturday evening. “Just doing some skating drills, some exercises out there on the ice. It’s increased over the last two days, from the reports I’ve been getting. I have no update, though, as to whether they’re going to be able to join a full practice yet.
“I anticipate that Malkin might be a couple days ahead of Hornqvist, but we’ll see. The next few days are really critical to see where they’re at.”
And then there’s Murray
Marc-Andre Fleury of the Penguins is having, by most accounts, the most impressive regular season of his career.
That doesn’t necessarily mean he is having the best of any goalie in the organization.
Striking as Fleury’s numbers are – he was 31-16-7, with a league-high nine shutouts, 2.23 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in 55 appearances before the Penguins played Saturday night at Arizona – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goalie Matt Murray has put up even more stellar ones.
Murray, a third-round draft choice in 2012, entered the Baby Penguins’ game against Binghamton Saturday with a 20-8-1 record, 1.61 goals-against average and .939 save percentage.
Oh, and he had matched Fleury’s shutout total and strung together an American Hockey League-record of not allowing a goal for 304 minutes, 11 seconds.
Penguins forward Andrew Ebbett, who has spent part of the season in the AHL, said that “anytime you can throw up as many shutouts in a row as he did, it’s a surprise” but was quick to add that Murray has come by his success honestly.
“He’s worked extremely hard,” Ebbett said. “From last year, [when he joined the Baby Penguins] right after juniors for a little bit with us, to this year, the improvement has been huge.
“He’s just dialed-in right now. He’s playing really well. He’s got a lot of confidence, and that goes a long way for a goalie.”
Bennett’s game erratic
Penguins winger Beau Bennett took a 22-game goal-less streak into the Coyotes game.
Johnston noted before the game that some facets of Bennett’s game have been upgraded – Johnston said he has been competing harder and playing more physically – but said his overall play has to be elevated on a regular basis.
“Beau Bennett is a guy whose play you see go up and down a little bit,” Johnston said. “As a young guy, sometimes his confidence is on a roll that way – within a game or from game to game – and he can really pick it up.
“Other times, it settles down. He’s just got to get a grasp on that. How to prepare every night, how to play every night. How to bring that consistency.”
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.