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game recap

Murray, Cullen lift Penguins by Rangers in Game 3

Rookie goalie makes 16 saves in playoff debut; Pittsburgh takes 2-1 series lead

by Jon Lane @JonLaneNHL / Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Rookie goalie Matt Murray made 16 saves in his first Stanley Cup Playoff start, and Matt Cullen scored 4:16 into the third period to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-1 win against the New York Rangers in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference First Round at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

Murray's win came less than a week after teammate Jeff Zatkoff won his playoff debut in Game 1. The Penguins became the first team in NHL history to have multiple goaltenders win his playoff debut in the same series.

"I thought he was real solid," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of 21-year-old Murray. "He's got a real calm demeanor in there. I think he reads plays well. He was tracking the puck. When he needed to make the timely saves for us, he did."

Video: PIT@NYR, Gm3: Cullen gives Penguins their first lead

The Penguins took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series. Game 4 is here on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, TVA Sports, SN, ROOT, MSG). 

Cullen capitalized on a fortuitous bounce early in the third period after Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle lost the puck and collided with teammate Keith Yandle at the blue line. Cullen broke in alone to beat Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist between the legs and give Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead.

"I thought the puck was bouncing a lot tonight," Cullen said. "That one just kind of went just in the perfect spot. It was a tough one for them to handle and I was just fortunate to be in the right spot and able to poke it by."

Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang scored for Pittsburgh. Murray, who had not played since sustaining an upper-body injury on April 9. won his eighth straight game dating to the regular season, when he was 4-0-0 with a 1.84 goals-against average and .936 save percentage in five appearances after starter Marc-Andre Fleury was sidelined by a concussion.

Video: PIT@NYR, Gm3: Crosby redirects a feed from Kessel

Lundqvist made 28 saves for New York, and defenseman Ryan McDonagh played a Rangers-high 22:48 after missing five games with a hand injury.

"I was fine, more worried about the team and the series," McDonagh said.

The Rangers generated 17 shots on goal (four in the third period), failing to generate any pressure after Rick Nash's shorthanded goal gave them a 1-0 lead.

"It goes back to playing the game the right way," Sullivan said. "I thought we did a real good job of puck management. I thought our guys defended hard and part of that is blocking shots and making sure that we protect the scoring area. Stick detail was really good as far as just getting sticks on pucks and making it hard for them to generate some offense. 

"For me that's playoff hockey. When the time is called for to have to defend … we have to make sure that we make the commitment and we defend when those times call for. I thought our guys were doing that."

Video: PIT@NYR, Gm3: Nash opens scoring with top-shelf SHG

The Rangers appeared to take a 1-0 lead on Chris Kreider's power-play goal at 12:56 of the first period. It was overturned following a coach's challenge by Sullivan when video review determined that Rangers forward J.T. Miller was offside receiving a pass from defenseman Brady Skjei. The Rangers failed to capitalize on the remaining 3:27 of a double-minor to Penguins forward Conor Sheary.

"I don't know if it was a turning point but certainly it gives our team a boost to know they don't score," Sullivan said. "With that rule, the League is trying to get those calls right because you can see the impact they have on the outcome of games, and that was one of them. Fortunately for us it went our way and I thought our guys responded the right way."

Nash scored when defenseman Kevin Klein's stretch pass led him into an open area beyond the red line. Nash skated alone down the left side and beat Murray over his left shoulder 39 seconds into the second period. The goal ended a postseason home-scoring drought at 166:22; the Rangers were shut out by the Tampa Bay Lightning in Games 5 and 7 of the Eastern Conference Final last year.

Video: Situation Room: Rangers' goal overturned after review

Crosby tied the game 1-1 at 19:18 of the second after Marc Staal went off for hooking. Evgeni Malkin, playing in his second game after missing a month with an upper-body injury, found an open Phil Kessel, who completed a tic-tac-toe sequence with a pass that deflected off Crosby's stick past Lundqvist.

Including Pittsburgh's three playoff games, Crosby has at least one point in 22 of his past 24, and 13 goals and 33 points since Feb. 29. He has at least a point in 13 of his past 15 games at Madison Square Garden.

"It was a great pass," Crosby said. "I didn't think [Kessel] could get it through I had my stick on the ice and I don't know how he got it through. It just found a way to hit my stick and go in. He's dangerous with his shot, so I think you're kind of in between trying to look for a rebound and he can also make those plays sometimes. On that goal I didn't think he can get it through but he found a way. I think that says a lot about his passing ability."

Letang scored an empty-net goal with 13 seconds remaining.

Video: Cullen scores game-winner in Penguins' Game 3 victory

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