TORONTO — After Tuesday’s exhibition game between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, some of the Penguins players admitted there was some rust to shake off.
But after a long four months, they said it was just great to be back on the ice in a competitive match-up.
“It was exciting,” said goalie Matt Murray, who played the first half of Tuesday’s game in Toronto. “Again, the atmosphere was something different, something I’ve never seen before, but it was a ton of fun. It’s been a long time since we played a real competitive game like that, so I had a blast and it seems like everybody else was too.”
Pittsburgh forward Conor Sheary scored the game’s first goal a few minutes into the first period, but the Flyers took the lead later in the period with back-to-back goals. The Penguins later tied the game in the third period but lost in overtime.
There were questions about what the games were going to be like without fans.
Surprisingly though, Brian Dumoulin said the atmosphere really wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be.
“You could still feel the energy and the shift in momentum from the way the game was being played in the offensive zone and the defensive zone,” said the defenseman. “It still had the same competitiveness, I thought, and it’s definitely something that we’re gonna (get) used to more and more when we play.”
Forward Jason Zucker, who tallied the game tying goal late in the third period, said the atmosphere is something they’ll continue adjusting to.
“Overall, playing without fans is a bit different, but it’s something you gotta get used to,” said Zucker. “It’s our new normal and we just gotta make sure that we’re ready for Saturday.”
The Penguins open up Game 1 of the best-of-five qualifying round against the Montreal Canadiens Saturday night at 8 p.m.
We’ll have complete coverage of the contest on Channel 11!
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