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Stanley Cup Final

Penguins unable to pick up Murray after rough start

Rookie goalie rebounds from three-goal first period, but Pittsburgh falls to Sharks 4-2 in Game 5 of Cup Final

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins rookie goalie Matt Murray responded to a rough start by rebounding, as he has several times throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It wasn't enough this time. Murray allowed three first-period goals to the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final and Pittsburgh lost 4-2 at Consol Energy Center on Thursday.

But the 22-year-old remains confident with the Penguins leading the best-of-7 series 3-2 entering Game 6 at SAP Center in San Jose on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

Murray has been critical of past performances, labeling his play "pretty average" on occasion during the playoffs. That wasn't the case following Game 5, when he surrendered three goals on the first five shots he faced.

"I felt like I was on top of things tonight, to be honest," Murray said. "They kind of fanned on the one. I probably could've played the [Brent] Burns goal a little bit better. I felt really good. I felt like I was on top of it. I was great in the second and third, I thought. I made some good saves."

Burns scored 1:04 into the first period. After wrapping around the left side of the net, he carried the puck to the left circle and, with Murray leaning off his left post, snuck a shot by his blocker.

Video: SJS@PIT, Gm5: Burns opens the scoring early

Logan Couture gave the Sharks a 2-0 lead 1:49 later on a deflection.

After the Penguins responded with two quick goals, Melker Karlsson scored on the fanned shot Murray referred to. Couture backhanded a pass to Karlsson, whose wrist shot fluttered by Murray's glove with 5:13 remaining in the first.

"I'm always nervous to start games, but I thought I handled it pretty well," Murray said. "I don't think that really affected how I played. I was pretty sharp early. I made a couple good saves and then, after the third one, I shut it down. I settled in a little bit after the third one, but I don't think we're too worried as a group in here."

Murray stopped the remaining 17 shots he faced, with 15 after the first period. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said he never considered pulling him following the Sharks' third goal.

Sullivan said he thought Murray wasn't the only tentative player despite two goals and a 15-7 shot advantage following the first period. The Penguins regrouped in the remaining two periods, he said, as did Murray.

"I thought our team, as a whole, was a little bit unsettled in the first part of the game and they settled in fast," Sullivan said. "So, obviously, we didn't have the start that we would've liked … I thought Matt settled in as the game went on, just like our team."

Throughout the postseason, Murray has come back from a few poor first periods with timely saves that have given the Penguins a chance to win. Thursday was no different.

Video: SJS@PIT, Gm5: Murray flashes the leather on Marleau

With Pittsburgh trailing 3-2, 7:27 into the third period, Couture set up Patrick Marleau to the left of the Penguins crease. Marleau shot toward the right side of the net with Murray leaning on the opposite post, but was denied by a quick glove save.

Defenseman Olli Maatta thought Murray did enough for Pittsburgh to win. Maybe it would have been enough if the Penguins could have capitalized on a 31-15 shot advantage in the final two periods.

"He played awesome again. He gave us a chance to win," Maatta said. "We have to be better for him from the beginning. I think we weren't good enough. We left him hanging a bit."

Instead, the Penguins failed to clinch the Stanley Cup at home for the first time. But if they match their performance from Thursday, Murray thinks the outcome in Game 6 will look a bit different.

"We're a confident group," Murray said. "We played really well tonight. That's no secret. If you look at the stat sheet, it will tell you. We couldn't get it done here, but we're confident in our game and if we continue to play that way, I think we're going to be in good shape."

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