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Atkinson's OT goal lifts Blue Jackets past Penguins

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- Columbus Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky did his best to make the Pittsburgh Penguins unhappy on Friday.

Dubinsky's cross check of Sidney Crosby caused the Pittsburgh center to leave the game briefly late in the second period. He then set up Cam Atkinson for the overtime winner in a 2-1 victory at Nationwide Arena.

Atkinson one-timed a pass from Dubinsky past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for his sixth goal of the season with 2:18 remaining to give Columbus (10-14-0) a victory in its first overtime game of the season.

Atkinson started the play in the defensive end after Crosby lost the puck. He passed ahead to Jack Johnson, who found Dubinsky deep in the Pittsburgh zone. Dubinsky circled to the right side of the goal, put on the brakes and found Atkinson between the circles with his stick in shooting position.

"I knew he was going to pull up and I knew he was going to find me," Atkinson said.

Dubinsky found the Blue Jackets' first foray into the new 3-on-3 overtime to be interesting.

"A lot of open ice," he said. "It was a little bit like summer hockey, but when you've got possession you've got to try and keep it."

The Penguins (13-8-1) lost for the first time in five overtime games.

Evgeni Malkin gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal 9:15 into the third period. Ryan Johansen tied it at 11:57.

Fleury made 41 saves for Pittsburgh and Sergei Bobrovsky finished with 25 saves for the Blue Jackets.

"I liked the way we handled ourselves when they scored," Columbus coach John Tortorella said. "We didn't score. We had a power play, it wasn't good, but we kept on playing and got the goal."

Dubinsky sent Crosby to the ice and then the dressing room with a cross check to the back of the neck at 18:40 of the second period. Dubinsky received a minor penalty and Crosby returned for the start of the third period.

"I'm OK," Crosby said. "There's always concern when it happens. Honestly, I haven't seen it so I don't know how it looked. I know how it felt. I don't know if the official saw it or not."

Dubinsky and Crosby have had a long-running feud and battled ferociously in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Dubinsky said battling Crosby was merely part of his job.

"There's no secret. I try to play him as hard as I can," he said. "That being said, I don't do anything dirty. I felt my stick ride up his back a little bit. He was kind of bent over in front but that's not the type of player I am. I'm going to try and play hard but play fair and between the whistles."

Second-year Penguins coach Mike Johnston watched the 2014 Pittsburgh-Columbus series from afar and got an understanding of what it's like when the Metropolitan Division opponents play.

"I thought at that time it was a legitimate rivalry," he said. "Every game we play them, whether it's exhibition games, they're all intense battles. It's nice to see the intensity, the passion of the rivalry."

Pittsburgh went ahead when Malkin scored on the Penguins' fourth power play. Bobrovsky stopped Malkin's initial shot from the lower right circle and Crosby's rebound attempt was blocked. But Malkin picked up the puck and fired it past Bobrovsky as three Blue Jackets players went to the ice for his ninth goal of the season.

Crosby got the assist, giving him three goals and two assists in four games.

Johansen's fifth goal with 8:03 left in third came on a rebound of Pittsburgh native Brandon Saad's shot. The goal stood after a challenge by Johnston that Columbus forward Scott Hartnell had interfered with Fleury by slashing him.

"He hits my leg," Fleury said. "I slipped on my push. I thought it would be enough."

It was typical of the physical nature of the game.

"This is why you play," Pittsburgh forward Patric Hornqvist said. "I like the intense games. I like the scrums after the whistle as long as they're fair. Both teams did a good job. It was a fun game. Too bad we didn't get the win."

Each team plays again Saturday. The Penguins are home to the Edmonton Oilers; Columbus plays at the St. Louis Blues.

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