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March 9, 2017
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray notched his 25th win of the season Wednesday evening against the Winnipeg Jets, passing Gary Inness for the most wins by a rookie netminder in franchise history, per Sportsnet Stats.
It wasn’t Murray’s best performance of the season. He allowed four pucks past him in the contest, but received offensive support to the tune of seven goals. The Penguins lead the league in scoring through their 65th contest of the season, averaging 3.51 goals per game.
Murray technically qualifies as a rookie because he didn’t play in 25 games during the 2015-16 regular season. Despite being classified as a first-year player, the 22-year-old netminder already has a Stanley Cup championship under his belt.
After spending the first season and a half of his professional career tuning his game at the AHL level, the 2012 third-round pick wrestled away the primary goalie duties from Marc-Andre Fleury due to a combination of good play and injuries to Fleury and hasn’t given it back since.
The Penguins currently sit tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second-best record in the Metropolitan Division, but the two remain just five points back of the Washington Capitals with 17 games remaining in the regular season. Murray’s inexperience at the top level would generally be considered a hindrance late in the season, but his level of play in the 2015-16 postseason displayed his poise in high-leverage situations.
Pittsburgh shouldn’t have any issue making the playoffs for an 11th consecutive season in 2016-17. Assuming they do, the club has an opportunity to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98 and 1998-99.