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Murray shows resilience in Game 5 shutout

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

A lot of things went right for Pittsburgh in its 6-0 Game 5 Stanley Cup Final victory on Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena.

The Pens, who now hold a 3-2 series lead and can win back-to-back Stanley Cup titles with a victory in Game 6 in Nashville on Sunday night, were firing on all cylinders in their decisive win. 

*The Pens scored early (1:31 into the game), late (10.2 seconds left in first period) and often (six total goals on their first 15 shots).

*Six different players recorded a goal, including two players - Phil Kessel and Conor Sheary - snapping long goal droughts.

*Twelve different players notched at least one point in the game.

*Their power play, which had gone 1-for-16 entering the contest, scored a crucial goal in the opening minutes of the first period.

*And their captain Sidney Crosby played out of his mind, recording three assists in the game.

Lost in the offensive explosion was that big fat zero in the Predators' goal column. Goaltender Matt Murray surrendered zero goals on 24 shots to record his first career shutout in the Stanley Cup Final.

Murray, who is still technically considered a rookie despite the fact that he led the Pens' to a Stanley Cup championship last spring, became only the third rookie goalie to post a shutout in the Stanley Cup Final during the expansion era, joining Patrick Roy and Cam Ward.

"I thought the team played a pretty solid game overall," Murray said. "That helps a lot. There's definitely things you can take from any game no matter what happens. Try to be better going forward."

Murray, 23, had allowed an unusually high number of goals - 12 - through the first four games of the Final. More alarming though was the eight goals he allowed in Games 3 and 4, both losses.

Now all of those goals were not particularly Murray's fault. Defensive lapses and odd-man rushes played a role. But Murray has set a high standard for his own play and expectations, especially when it comes to bouncing back. 

The back-to-back losses in Games 3 and 4 marked the first time in Murray's career that he suffered consecutive playoff losses. Murray had been 7-0 in games following a loss prior to the Game 4 setback.

So Murray has a history of responding with a strong performance following losses. And even in his own estimation, Murray felt he had a strong showing in Game 4, despite suffering the loss.

Prior to Game 5 rumors swirled that the Pens may make a change in goal, which was fueled when head coach Mike Sullivan refused to state his starting goaltender for Game 5. Saying only, "We didn't lose those games because of goaltending."

Murray has never lost three straight games. Ever. Whether its in the regular season or postseason. And his perfect 24-for-24 effort in Game 5 made sure to keep that streak in tact.

"Of course you want to win every game," Murray said. "You want to bounce back after a bad game, but at the end of the day, you just prepare the same way each and every day and try to give yourself the best chance to be successful."

The Pens certainly made Murray's night easy with some run support. The Pens had scored a combined two goals in both Games 3 and 4. And even Sullivan noted that you can't win games scoring just one goal.

A six-goal cushion is nice for a goaltender, but Murray has the same focus and attitude if the Pens score six goals or just one.  

"From a goalie's perspective it doesn't change my job," he said. "I have no control over whether the puck goes in the net at the other end of the ice. I have full confidence that our team is going to score. But my job stays the same no matter what, and that's just to stop the puck."

On Thursday night, he stopped all the pucks.

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