Pens rally behind Murray after second shaky effort

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PITTSBURGH — Mike Sullivan already made one goalie switch this postseason.

He wasn’t going to make another.

“No,” the Penguins head coach said, when asked if he thought about pulling Matt Murray after the third goal in Thursday’s 4-2 loss to San Jose. “I thought Matt settled in as the game went on, just like our team.”

To be fair, Murray had to settle in after making just four saves on seven shots in the opening frame. The general consensus is two of three goals surrendered were on the ‘tender — Brent Burns‘ opener just 64 seconds in, which went in short side, and Melker Karlsson‘s eventual game-winner, which fluttered through Murray’s arm.

Murray’s struggles were compounded by the fact his counterpart, San Jose’s Martin Jones, was brilliant.

Jones stopped 44 of 46 shots on Thursday and easily claimed first star honors. Patric Hornqvist acknowledged that “he was hot,” while Justin Braun described the performance as “unbelievable.”

Jones now has a .933 save percentage in the series, and is the main reason why we’re going back to San Jose for Game 6.

Oddly enough, you could sort of say the same thing about Murray.

Prior to tonight, some asked where the Pens would be had Murray handled Joel Ward’s long-distance blast with 15 minutes to go in Game 3. It wasn’t a good goal — Murray said as much himself — and it paved the way for Joonas Donskoi to score the game-winner in OT, keeping the Sharks alive.

Had Murray stopped Ward’s shot, this series might be over already.

But he didn’t.

As such, there will undoubtedly be questions about the young goalie’s mental state, and ability to handle pressure, heading into Sunday’s game at the SAP Center. Murray has done a remarkable job of bouncing back from bad outings in the past, something his captain, Sidney Crosby, alluded to.

“[Murray’s] just got to keep doing what he’s doing. I think that he gave us a lot of chances to win games and again tonight even at 3-2 they had some really good chances,” Crosby said. “He held us in there. We had a lot of game left to get ourselves back in the game.

“He’s just got to continue doing what he’s doing. He’s been great for us.”

Related: Sharks get to ‘live another day,’ thanks mostly to Jones