BUFFALO, N.Y. -- It has been 21 days since Casey DeSmith faced a shot in game action. But that is about to change.
Tonight, the Penguins' backup goalie will be in net when the Penguins face the Sabres at KeyBank Center. That will snap Matt Murray's run of nine consecutive starts, including two sets of back-to-back games. Murray went 6-1-2 over that span as the Penguins appear to have solidified one of the eight playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
While Mike Sullivan has not been shy about using DeSmith in big games, including starts against top contenders like the Sharks, Golden Knights and Maple Leafs, this will be his first since Sullivan declared his team in "playoff mode." Sullivan said that in making his decision to rest Murray now, he had to weigh the bigger picture against a short-term gain.
"Matt's had a pretty heavy workload, we're trying to watch that," Sullivan explained. "We're trying to keep him at his best. We're trying to keep everyone at their best because that's what we're going to need to win each and every game. Casey's been good for us. We think this is the right decision at this time."
DeSmith has gone 14-11-5 this season with a 2.86 goals-against average and 9.16 save percentage. He had been one of the catalysts to the Penguins' turnaround in December when the club went 11-3-1, but since signing his three-year contact extension on Jan 11, he's won just two of his last seven starts.