Penguins get flurry of goals to rally past Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets' Nikita Nikitin, left to right, of Russia, Boone Jenner, Ryan Johansen and Dalton Prout celebrate their goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period of a first-round NHL playoff hockey game Monday, April 21, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Pittsburgh Penguins' Evgeni Malkin, right, of Russia, and Columbus Blue Jackets' Nick Foligno chase a loose puck during the first period of a first-round NHL playoff hockey game Monday, April 21, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Columbus Blue Jackets' Sergei Bobrovsky (72), of Russia, makes a save as teammate Jack Johnson, right, tries to clear Pittsburgh Penguins' Lee Stempniak from in front of the net during the first period of a first-round NHL playoff hockey game Monday, April 21, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby, left, and Columbus Blue Jackets' Nikita Nikitin, of Russia, fight for a loose puck during the first period of a first-round NHL playoff hockey game Monday, April 21, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Brandon Sutter, Lee Stempniak and Jussi Jokinen scored in a span of 2:13 of the third period to revive the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets last night.
Pittsburgh took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven playoff series thanks to the goals on three consecutive shots.
Brooks Orpik added a goal in the final seconds of the second period as the Penguins stormed back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-1. Marc Andre-Fleury had 27 saves.
Boone Jenner and Jack Johnson staked the Blue Jackets to an early lead in the opening 3:18, with Cam Atkinson getting credit for a goal early in the final period that stretched the lead to 3-1.
But then the Penguins found their game, dominating with a 41-20 advantage in shots on goal and controlling the pace to disappoint a raucous overflow crowd of 19,148.
Beau Bennett and Paul Martin each had two assists for the Penguins, as did Brandon Dubinsky for the Blue Jackets, who were trying for their first playoff victory at home. They were 0-5 in the postseason until pulling off a stunning 4-3 double-overtime victory Saturday night in Pittsburgh.
Down 3-1 after Dubinsky’s twirling backhander went in off Atkinson’s glove just over a minute into the final period, the Penguins found another gear.
Martin’s shot from the point was redirected by Sutter cut the lead to a goal. Stempniak took a short pass from Kris Letang and waded in from the right wing, beating goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who finished with 37 saves, 1:10 later.
Then Jokinen redirected Olli Maatta’s shot from the point and it glanced in off defenseman James Wisniewski, thoroughly deflating a crowd waiting to celebrate an historic win.
All three games have ended up 4-3, with one team building a 3-1 edge.
Columbus’ last best chance came with 30 seconds left when Fleury made a blocker save on Ryan Johansen’s hard shot.
For years, Penguins fans flooded into Nationwide Arena and had little opposition when they led “Let’s go, Pens!” cheers. But Columbus’s front office sold playoff tickets to Ohio addresses first, cutting down on long-distance buyers. As a result, the crowd was loud and decidedly partisan for the Blue Jackets.
They had a lot to cheer almost immediately.
Jenner, a rookie who scored 16 goals and 13 assists in a breakout season, put in a rebound 1:38 into the game.
That goal had barely been announced when the Blue Jackets made it 2-0.
Dubinsky, who has been matched defensively against NHL scoring leader Sidney Crosby every time the superstar hits the ice, won two puck battles along the back boards and flipped a pass toward the front of the cage. Johnson was there to jam it past Fleury.
Bobrovsky stopped all 16 Pittsburgh shots in the first period, his best a sliding save to deny James Neal on a solo rush.
Orpik’s goal came with 1.8 seconds left in the second period. He rocketed a hard wrister that eluded Bobrovsky.
Wild 1, Avalanche 0, OT
Mikael Granlund’s diving swing at his own rebound 5:08 into overtime gave the Minnesota Wild a win over Semyon Varlamov and the Colorado Avalanche in Game 3 to pull within 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
Varlamov stopped 45 of 46 shots, a franchise playoff record number of shots on goal for the Wild.
Granlund cut toward the net for a wrist shot, and as he was falling forward took a stab at the puck to finally put one past Varlamov.
Darcy Kuemper made 22 saves, but the Wild goalie in his first career playoff start was just as good as his counterpart.
Game 4 is at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday.