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Matt Murray, Penguins defeat Ducks

Goalie makes 32 saves in season debut, Pittsburgh gets goals from five players

by Abbey Mastracco / NHL.com Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- Matt Murray made 32 saves in his season debut, and five Pittsburgh Penguins scored in a 5-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Wednesday.

Murray broke his hand Sept. 19 playing for Team North America in the World Cup of Hockey 2016. He backed up Marc-Andre Fleury the previous three games after being activated from injured reserve.

"I think my job was pretty easy tonight," said Murray, 22, who was 15-6 with a 2.08 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs to help the Penguins win the Cup. "The team played extremely well. I had enough in-tight battles and stuff like that to test my hand in a game situation, and it felt really good."

Video: PIT@ANA: Murray's great desperation save

Evgeni Malkin gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead when he scored 7:41 into the game. He beat goalie John Gibson with a one-timer from the right faceoff circle for his sixth goal of the season, fourth in three games.

Matt Cullen, who turned 40 on Wednesday, made it 2-0 at 10:24 of the first when he took a pass from Tom Sestito and scored from nearly the same spot as Malkin.

Cam Fowler cut the Penguins lead to 2-1 when he scored on a point shot through traffic past Murray, who was being screened by Rickard Rakell, for his third power-play goal of the season at 15:49 of the first.

Bryan Rust put Pittsburgh up 3-1 when he scored his first goal of the season with 3:18 left in the second period.

Video: PIT@ANA: Rust jams home a rebound off the crossbar

Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, who returned after missing five games with an upper-body injury, scored a power-play goal 1:27 into the third period to make it 4-1. Shortly after an unsuccessful penalty shot attempt by Scott Wilson, Patric Hornqvist scored at 7:14 for a 5-1 Pittsburgh lead.

"We were playing well. It was 2-0 before they scored that goal," Letang said. "We knew we had the momentum, and they caught us with a long shift on the penalty kill and scored. We came back right where we left off after they scored."

The Penguins (7-2-1), who have outscored opponents 12-5 in the third period, have won four games in a row.

The Ducks (4-5-2) have lost two of three and have been outscored 9-1 in their past two home games.

Each loss has come after an emotional win the prior game. The Ducks defeated the Los Angeles Kings 4-0 on Tuesday. Before losing 4-0 to the Columbus Blue Jackets last Friday, they won 6-1 against the Nashville Predators, who eliminated them from the 2016 playoffs, on Oct. 26.

"That's what we're just banging our head against the wall over right now," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "We're looking at it and saying, 'Why, why, why?' and the answer to it isn't right at the tip of my tongue. I wish I had that answer."

Video: PIT@ANA: Hornqvist capitalizes on a feed from Crosby

Gibson made 29 saves before being relieved by Jonathan Bernier, who played for the first time since missing three games with an upper-body injury.

Ducks forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Nick Ritchie each was scratched because of an upper-body injury. Each is day to day, Carlyle said.

 

Goal of the game

Cullen started the day with a cupcake smashed in his face during the morning skate and ended it by celebrating more than just his birthday. His second goal in as many games was the game-winner. "It's quite the feat to be able to still be playing at 40. And not only playing, but contributing the way he is," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said.

Video: PIT@ANA: Cullen buries quick blast to put Pens up 2-0

 

Saves of the game

With the Penguins up 2-1 and the Ducks on the power play midway through the second period, Murray made a diving stop on slap shots by Rakell at 10:29 and Jakob Silfverberg at 10:50.

 

Unsung moment of the game

Letang's goal early in the third period gave Pittsburgh a three-goal lead and also showed how great his presence is when he's in the lineup. "He's one of the best defensemen in the League," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "He helps you get out of your end zone, he joins the rush, he makes plays off the rush, so when he's in our lineup, we are a much better team at both ends of the rink."

Video: PIT@ANA: Letang's smooth tip-in finds twine for PPG

 

Highlight of the game

Malkin was all alone in the circle when Phil Kessel slid him a cross-ice pass that he promptly shot past a diving Gibson to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

Video: PIT@ANA: Malkin rips a one-timer to open the scoring

 

They said it

"They're Stanley Cup champions for a reason. They're a really good team. I thought we had a really good first period. We just gave them too many chances. At the end of the day, we loosened up and they made us pay." -- Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano

 

"I thought we were skating, we were moving the puck, I thought we executed much better coming out of our end zone and we were on the puck all over the rink. When we do that, we are hard to play against. I thought our second period was our best, but overall it was probably one of our more complete games this year." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan

 

Video: PIT@ANA: Fowler's PPG cuts the Pens lead in half

 

Need to know

Ducks forward Ondrej Kase made his NHL debut. … Cullen has 20 points in 25 career games against Anaheim. … Ryan Kesler assisted on Fowler's goal for his 500th NHL point. … Gibson, a Pittsburgh native, has allowed 19 goals and is 1-3-0 against the Penguins in his career.

 

What's next

Penguins: At the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday (10:30 p.m. ET; FS-W, ROOT, NHL.TV)

Ducks: Home against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday (10 p.m. ET; FS-W, FS-A PLUS, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Murray makes 32 saves in first game, Penguins win 5-1

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