GARRIOCH: Matt Murray returns to Ottawa Senators after a month in Belleville

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There was a familiar face on the ice with the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.


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Matt Murray was retired from the club’s AHL affiliate in Belleville and skated with his Ottawa teammates at the Canadian Tire Center.

Murray, 27, who approved the waivers last month and was assigned to Belleville on November 28 to improve his game, returned to Ottawa after goalkeeper Anton Forsberg was placed on protocol after testing positive for COVID-19 on Monday.

Murray will not have a chance to face his former Pittsburgh Penguins teammates on Friday at 1 p.m. because that game was officially postponed due to attendance restrictions. The Senators’ next game will be against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night at Scotiabank Arena.

Substitute goalkeeper Filip Gustavsson, who was placed on protocol last week, will return to the ice on Wednesday after spending 10 days in isolation due to a positive test.


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This was Murray’s first skating after completing a 10-day quarantine due to an outbreak in Belleville’s room.

Murray, who makes $ 6.25 million per season in the second season of a four-year contract extension he signed with the club after being transferred to the Senators in October 2020, is happy to be back with his teammates from Ottawa.

“He didn’t see it so much as a reboot, but as something he had to move on to,” Murray said in a Zoom call with reporters Tuesday. “I had to keep building on the positives and I had to keep trying to improve my game and that’s what I feel I did.

“It was a bit choppy with all the COVID-19 stuff that is out of your hands. I just tried to make the most of it. “

Sending Murray to Belleville didn’t work out the way general manager Pierre Dorion, coach DJ Smith and goalkeeping coach Zac Bierk wanted when they made the decision last month. He only dressed for two AHL games because Belleville had a COVID-19 outbreak on a road trip.


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There’s really nothing the Senators can do about it, and he had a lot of time alone with Belleville goalkeeping coach Justin Peters. Murray finished with a 1-1-0 record in the two games he played with a .918 save percentage and 2.55 goals against.

Dorion said that now that Murray is back, he will have a chance to play.

“We are very happy to have Matt Murray back,” said Dorion. “Having a goalkeeper of his caliber, and what he’s done before, it’s great to have him back. As DJ said before, we will do our best to put you in a situation where you can be successful.

“Unfortunately we wanted him to go there and have a lot of playing time, but he had a lot of practice time so hopefully we can see Matt Murray who won two Cups and Matt Murray who played well for us in the latter part of last year. “.


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Peters and Murray have a long relationship dating back to when they skated together as teenagers. That helped make the move easier.

“We used to skate together when he was still playing and we had the same goalkeeping coach,” Murray said. “I know him very well and that made the transition seamless. We had a great time, we had a lot of very long talks about all kinds of things, including goalkeeping of course.

“He was amazing working with him and I can’t say enough about him. As a coach and as a person, I was very grateful to be able to spend time with him. “

Murray made 26 saves to record a 3-2 victory over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on the road on December 12. It was his first AHL win since the 2015-16 season, when he was with the Wilkes-Barre Penguins.


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It was also Murray’s first professional win since April 22 of last season against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. He is winless in six NHL starts this season with a 0-5-0 record with an average of 3.26 goals against and a .890 save percentage.

He went to AHL in the right frame of mind and worked hard while there.

“We all have a common goal here and that is to win hockey games,” Murray said. “My job is to keep the disk off the grid and I don’t have much control over the other things. They tell me I’m going to Belleville, I’m going to Belleville, so I have to take it easy.

“I just had to think about what I wanted to get out of it. I’m so thankful for (Peters) and (Troy Mann) and those guys at Belleville. “

Smith said senators want Murray to be successful.

“We just want him to do what he’s doing again,” Smith said. “Sometimes a mental break is better than anything else to refresh and reset. The team will play better against him, we have to limit the possibilities and prepare him for success.

“He’s going to have a couple of days of practice here and he’ll be good to go.”

Forsberg will have to do a 10-day quarantine and will not be eligible to join the senators until they arrive in Vancouver next week to begin a four-game swing in western Canada.

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Twitter: @sungarrioch



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