The goal for Matt Murray on Saturday night sounds pretty straightforward.
“I want to see him continue to build,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters in Ottawa on Saturday morning. “I think he has done a good job. His numbers don’t show up well in the last few starts he has had, but coming off the injury, he is just getting going.
“One thing I know about Matt Murray is he is unflappable and extremely confident in who he is. That comes with his nature and once you have won two Stanley Cups, I don’t think you care much else about what’s going on.”
When Murray faces the Senators for the first time since the veteran netminder was traded to Toronto last summer, he will make his fourth start since returning from an ankle injury.
Murray will attempt to break a string of allowing four goals in each of his past five appearances, going back to Jan. 14.
“You do your best to treat it like every other game,” Murray said of returning to Ottawa. “My focus is on that. They’re a dangerous team, incredibly talented offensively.
“I think it’s going to be a playoff-type atmosphere out there. We’re going to have our hands full.”
Murray will be backed up by Joseph Woll, who along with forward Bobby McMann, was recalled from the Toronto Marlies.
Goaltender Ilya Samsonov did not travel to Ottawa.
“He has had a couple minor things he has been dealing with, which allows him to stay back and take care of that,” Keefe said. “Also, he and his wife are expecting a baby any day now.”
Keefe, as he had been planning, will go with the usual lineup of 12 forwards and six defencemen after using a split of 11 and seven in recent games. Wayne Simmonds and McMann will play up front, while Justin Holl returns on the blue line.
Defencemen Mark Giordano, who could use a rest, and Erik Gustafsson will sit.
The Leafs, coming off a smart 5-2 win at home against Carolina on Friday, will be looking to improve on a record of 6-3-1 in the second game of back-to-back sets. Forward Noel Acciari, who departed the game against the Hurricanes after a collision with Jesse Puljujarvi, did not make the trip.
The Leafs will return home after the game, take Sunday off and practise in Etobicoke on Monday before hitting the road again for a four-game trip that starts on Tuesday in New York against the Islanders.
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