The Pens absolutely took off in the third period of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final against Nashville on Wednesday at PPG Paints Arena, with three goals in the opening 3:18 to give them a 4-1 win over the Predators.
However, their dominating final frame would not have been possible without Matt Murray's outstanding play between the pipes.
The rookie netminder faced 32 shots in the first 40 minutes of play, allowing just one goal on a patient, pretty play from Predators winger Pontus Aberg. Murray kept his team in the game amidst the intense pressure Nashville applied, and his teammates were appreciative of his efforts.
"He was excellent," Pens winger Chris Kunitz said. "He made huge, huge saves at key times in this game for us. ... Even with them crashing the net he's been phenomenal. In the times we haven't controlled play, he's been our best player out there and keeping them off the board."
Murray is the third-fastest goalie in NHL history to reach 20 career playoff games (28 games played). He is now 6-2 all-time in the Stanley Cup Final, with his six wins tied with Marc-Andre Fleury and trailing only Tom Barrasso (7) for the most in team history.
En route to this sixth career victory, Murray said that the Predators came out particularly hard to start. They finished the first period with a flurry, peppering Murray with shots in the final minutes, but he was able to come up with seven saves.
"You never want to allow anything in the last little bit of the period," Murray said. "You never want to give them momentum going into intermission. At the end of each period I think is a big point of any game and we were able to weather that storm and go from there."
And from there, Murray continued to keep the same mindset.
"I just try to make the next save," Murray said. "That's what my focus is, to hold them off as long as possible. After that we have confidence that we are going to score goals. It's a big point in the game, I think, and I thought we played a lot better after the first period."
This was not an easy task with the physicality Nashville brings in goal. Murray was bumped around in Game 1 and got the same treatment in Game 2, but continued to, as Mike Sullivan and the Pens always say, 'just play.'
And in this case, play terrific.
"Murr played fantastic for us," defenseman Ian Cole said. "He was such a calming presence back there. He never gets rattled. A goal goes in and he can play the exact same way after that, which is hard for any goalie to do - especially one that is still really quite young. He is mature beyond his years and the guys really feed off that calmness and that confidence that he has."