The troubled state of goaltending for the Pittsburgh Penguins could be a thing of the past as Marc-Andre Fleury participated in a full practice on Monday and hopes to start the opener of the team’s first-round playoff series against the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
“Just (taking it one day) at a time,” Fleury told the team’s website. “This was my first practice. We’ll see how it goes the next few days. Hopefully, everything is good.”
Fleury missed Pittsburgh’s final five games with his second concussion of the campaign and rookie backup Matt Murray exited the season finale against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday with what appeared to be a head injury following a collision with Brayden Schenn. Murray did not practice Monday and is listed as day-to-day.
If Fleury and Murray both are unable to play Wednesday, Jeff Zatkoff will make the start for the Penguins. The 28-year-old Zatkoff went 4-7-1 with a 2.79 GAA in 14 games – 11 starts – this season and is 16-14-3 with a 2.66 GAA in 35 career contests.
The 31-year-old Fleury suffered his first concussion of 2015-16 in December and missed eight games. He posted a 35-17-6 record with five shutouts and a 2.29 goals-against average in 58 contests this season.
Fleury, who became the 20th goaltender in NHL history to register 350 victories earlier this season, went 3-1-0 with a 1.97 GAA in four meetings with New York this season and has posted three shutouts and a .924 save percentage in 17 career playoff games against the Rangers.
Selected first overall in the 2003 draft, Fleury went 4-14-2 as a rookie and followed with another losing season in 2005-06 before posting a 40-16-9 record with five shutouts and a 2.83 GAA the following campaign. The two-time All-Star helped the Penguins capture the Stanley Cup in 2009, going 16-8 with a 2.61 GAA in 24 postseason contests, and set a career high in 2011-12 with 42 victories.
Fleury has gone 357-206-59 with two ties, 43 shutouts and a 2.56 GAA in 653 regular-season games and is 53-44 with eight blankings and a 2.65 GAA in 98 playoff contests. The native of Sorel, Quebec helped Canada to silver medals at the IIHF World Championship in both 2003 and 2004 while capturing gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Defenseman Olli Maatta also took part in Monday’s practice for the Penguins after sitting out the final nine games of the regular season with a lower-body injury. The 21-year-old Finn recorded six goals and 13 assists in 67 contests this campaign.
“I felt good out there,” Maatta told the website. “I had no problems. … I can’t say for sure (that I’ll play Wednesday), but I felt good today.”
Drafted 22nd overall in 2012, Maatta has registered 16 goals and 41 assists in 165 regular-season games while notching four assists in 13 playoff contests. The 6-foot-2, 206-pound native of Jyvaskyla represented Finland in three IIHF World Junior Championships while helping his country capture the bronze medal at the 2014 Olympics.