Matt Murray healthy, as is Penguins’ mindset before Game 7

WASHINGTON, DC – Matt Murray was back on the ice in Pittsburgh Penguins’ practice on Wednesday before Game 7.

It was a surprise, as he’s been injured since the start of the playoffs. It was a conversation starter, because Marc-Andre Fleury has struggled in the last two losses to the Washington Capitals and Murray was the rookie goalie that eliminated the Caps last postseason.

“It’s always good to have him back. To see him out there battling, competing like he was, is good for our team,” said forward Bryan Rust.

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All indications are that Fleury is getting the Game 7 start for Pittsburgh, but with Murray available, one wonders if he’ll be on a short leash.

“When players dress it means they’re healthy and capable of playing,” was all coach Mike Sullivan would say. “He’s been practicing now for a number of days. He’s ready to take the next step and join the team. He’s just continuing that process.”

The Penguins have history on their side against the Washington Capitals – they’re 3-0 in Game 7s against them, having won at Verizon Center in 2009 – but that’s about it. The momentum is with the Capitals, who have rallied from a 3-1 series deficit with a pair of convincing wins against the Penguins. The Capitals goaltending and offensive attack are trending up as the Penguins’ are trending down.

But the Penguins seem convinced, or at least have convinced themselves, that when they’re playing their game they can defeat this Capitals team.

“We have to embrace the moment here. We haven’t played well in the last two games and we know it. We have to play the right way, and enjoy it out there. You can write your own legacy,” said forward Patric Hornqvist. “It’s just one game now. You can’t look back. You have to always look forward. This is going to be a hell of a game. We have to come out hard and play the right way.”

One thing the Penguins can rely on for hope: They have some game-changers. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel can change your fortunes with one flick of the stick; and Sullivan said for all the talk about teamwork and structure, sometimes your stars just have to shine.

“We’ve had success through our teamwork and our cooperative effort and we just happen to have some guys that can be difference makers. When those opportunities present themselves, those guys can act on their instincts and that’s what separates them from others,” he said.

“I think our players are well aware of this, they’ve been through this experience in the past, they have those experiences to draw on, and I know that those experiences will serve them well.”

The Penguins know they can beat the Capitals. The know they can beat the Capitals in this arena. They’ve done it before. Now it’s a matter of figuring out how to do it again.

“We know how to win in here, and how to beat them. It’s the first team to four, not the first team to three,” said Hornqvist. “One game ahead of us. We have to make sure we go out there and earn it.”

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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