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Murray embodies pluck of Blue Jackets' young talent

by Craig Merz
COLUMBUS -- Bloodied but undeterred describes the Stanley Cup Playoff experience for rookie defenseman Ryan Murray, one of 11 Columbus Blue Jackets players who made their postseason debuts Wednesday.

Murray took a hard but clean check by Pittsburgh Penguins forward Beau Bennett midway through the first period in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round best-of-7 series won by the Penguins 4-3.

Game 2 is Saturday in Pittsburgh (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

The collision sent Murray to the bench with blood streaming from his nose that had to be plugged, but he returned to rack up 23:50 of ice time and his plus-1 rating was the only positive number among the Blue Jackets' six defensemen.

"It was a good hit," Murray said. "It was shoulder-to-shoulder until I started falling. I totally blame myself for that.

"I knew it wasn't broken. I've been popped in the nose before. It kind of wakes you up a bit."

That Murray was able to send the puck out of harm's way in the Columbus defensive end impressed rookie forward Boone Jenner.

"He made a strong play off the wall," Jenner said. "He knew he was going to get hit. It's a sacrifice. It shows what it takes in the playoffs."

Veteran forward Mark Letestu saw positives from the young players throughout the lineup despite the loss.

"They seem to not be awed by the moment at all," he said. "They're confident and ready to go. Our younger guys played like men. They were really strong for us out there. They weren't on their heels at all."

Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards hopes that bodes well.

"Our feet are wet," he said. "It will be somewhat different. We know what to expect from Pittsburgh and what to expect in the arena."

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