Maple Leafs goalie Matt Murray returns from injury against Canucks

VANCOUVER — Matt Murray returned to the Maple Leafs net on Saturday, starting as Toronto faced off against the Canucks in Vancouver.

A nagging ankle injury took the 28-year-old goaltender out of the lineup in mid January, and he has missed 17 games since leaving midway through Toronto's 5-4 win over the Florida Panthers on Jan. 17.

He was also sidelined by a groin injury earlier in the season.

The Leafs placed Murray on injured reserve on Feb. 9 and recalled Joseph Woll from the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies.

Murray is 11-5-2 this season with a .911 save percentage and a 2.77 goals-against average.

After skating in Vancouver on Friday, the goalie told reporters he was "feeling really good" and taking his return to the starter's net "one day at a time."

The long layoff was difficult at times, Murray added.

"It's definitely tough mentally when you're away from the team and you're not doing your normal routines and you're on a bit of a different schedule," he said.

"But … I just tried to focus my attention and my energy in the best places and that's trying to get better each and every day, taking one day at a time."

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said the two-time Stanley Cup winner has done a great job of handling his recovery.

"He's put the work in both on and off the ice," he said.

The team has slowly ramped up Murray's workload, first ensuring he was comfortable getting back on the ice, then integrating him back with the rest of the group, the coach added.

"This week, since we've come out on the road here, has really been about getting him into some practices and stressing him out here a little bit more that way and seeing how his ankle would respond," Keefe said. "And everything's been very positive."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2023.

The Canadian Press