Penguins prospect Matt Murray made history Sunday, breaking the AHL record for longest shutout streak.
Matt Murray, 20, did something extremely special in the AHL on Sunday, and context is important here.
Murray set the league record for the longest shutout streak ever, extending it to 304 minutes and 11 seconds before allowing a goal to Springfield’s Dana Tyrell. Murray’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins went on to a 4-1 victory. He had four consecutive shutouts entering Sunday’s game. He stopped 130 straight shots during his run. He annihilated Barry Brust’s 2012 record of 268:17.
Don’t expect Murray to pop up, set this record and fade off into the night. The milestone is the start of something, not the end of it. He’s young, he has a projectable frame at 6-foot-4 and 178 pounds, and our panel of scouts and GMs recently rated Murray the Pittsburgh Penguins’ top goaltending prospect in Future Watch 2015, ahead of blue-chipper Tristan Jarry. Murray ranks fifth overall among Penguins prospects. Murray obviously needs to bulk up, but the Penguins love his rebound control and positional play. He leads the AHL in goals-against average and save percentage as a rookie. Not bad for a first-year pro.
Seeing Murray flourish has to make Penguins GM Jim Rutherford happy, He has Marc-Andre Fleury locked up to a long-term deal, meaning there’s little reason to rush Murray toward NHL starter status, but Murray makes for nice long-term insurance. It will be interesting to see what the Penguins do with their backup goalie job once Thomas Greiss hits unrestricted free agency this summer. The smart money is on Murray spending another year in the AHL and getting a chance for a full starter workload there instead of splitting games with Jeff Zatkoff.
So Brian Boucher’s modern-day NHL record of 332:01, spurred by five straight shutouts, remains the high watermark. Murray, however, has plenty to be proud of. You could watch the movie Boyhood twice at 160 minutes apiece with Murray’s starts playing on a screen beside you – and he wouldn’t allow a goal until well after Ellar Coltrane turns 18 for a second time. Pretty impressive stuff.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin