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Penguins' Fleury still the odd No. 1 out: Arthur

OTTAWA—On Friday morning it became clear that the Pittsburgh Penguins were making a change at goaltender. Never mind that Pittsburgh entered Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final against the Ottawa Senators with a goal-scoring problem: Other than their big three of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, their scoring had become a frozen tundra, empty and cold. Three goals in three games; injuries aplenty; a 2-1 series deficit. Better change the goalie.“It’s very difficult,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “That’s been a hard decision for this coaching staff all year long. And I said yesterday, it’s a good difficult decision to have because we have two guys that are as capable as they are, and both of these guys have helped this team win all year long, and they’re both high quality people and they’re high quality goaltenders.”“We never take these decisions lightly. They’re extremely difficult decisions. And this is the choice that we made for Game 4.”He chose those last words carefully — “we made it for Game 4” — because things can change. That meant Matt Murray in for Marc-Andre Fleury, after Fleury had started 15 straight games following Murray’s groin injury. Now, you can argue it’s absolutely the right move. Murray was tied for sixth in save percentage this year with Devan Dubnyk and Carey Price and he’s Sullivan’s guy, dating back to their time together in the AHL. He won the Penguins a Cup last year. Had he not gotten hurt, Murray would have been the starter the whole way.Article Continued BelowBut spare a thought for Fleury, who has long been one of the better soldiers in the NHL. Fleury has long been the other No. 1 pick on a team with Crosby and Malkin, and while he was in net when they won a Cup in 2009, he has endured the ignominy of many a post-season.The Philadelphia series in 2012 was a disaster, and it ended with Fleury and Kris Letang sitting next to another in full gear in the Philly visitors dressing room, with Letang speaking quietly in French to his devastated teammate and friend. Fleury gave way to Tomas Vokoun in 2013, and got one lousy start in the sweep by Boston in the conference final. He was stabilized by goaltending coach Mike Bales, who reined in Fleury’s more extravagant displays of athleticism, which sometimes got him in trouble. And after recording two of his best seasons, with .920 and a .921 save percentages, he was displaced by Murray last season, and it led to a Cup.

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