PITTSBURGH -- Phil Kessel scored 3:15 into overtime to help the Pittsburgh Penguins defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 at PPG Paints Arena on Friday.
Cam Atkinson hooked Sidney Crosby on a breakaway with 2:46 remaining in overtime, which led to a 4-on-3 power play for Pittsburgh. Kessel took advantage with his second goal of the game.
Kessel, who had three points (two goals, one assist), scored his 17th goal to help the Penguins avoid losing after having a 3-1 lead after the second period. The Penguins are 20-0-0 when leading after two periods this season.
"It's a big win," Kessel said. "Obviously, we're up 3-1 and you never want to let them come back in a game, but we kept fighting."
WATCH: All Blue Jackets vs. Penguins highlights
Pittsburgh (32-13-5), which has 69 points, is two points behind Columbus (33-12-5) for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
"I think it was a hard-fought game on both sides," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "There wasn't a lot of room out there and I thought both teams competed extremely hard. Our guys, for the most part, I thought we did a pretty good job. … It had a playoff feel to it."
Alexander Wennberg scored 29 seconds into the third period and Atkinson tied the game at 3-3 on his 25th goal with 8:40 remaining.
Video: CBJ@PIT: Wennberg buries Saad's quick pass
Pittsburgh struggled to maintain possession throughout the first half of the first period, but scored twice in the latter half to take a 2-0 lead into the intermission.
Kessel, who played his 800th NHL game, gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead after he looped from the far wall to the top of the right circle. He sent a wrist shot through a screen from Nick Bonino and past Sergei Bobrovsky with 6:23 remaining in the first.
Patric Hornqvist extended the lead to 2-0 with 1:32 left in the first. He has four goals in his past three games and five in his past five games.
Brandon Dubinsky cut Pittsburgh's lead to 2-1 with 4:17 remaining in the second period, when he roofed a shot over goalie Matt Murray.
Nick Bonino pushed it to 3-1 on his eighth goal of the season with 1:37 left in the second. Jake Guentzel shot off Seth Jones to Bonino, who collected the puck and placed a shot over Bobrovsky's left pad.
Video: CBJ@PIT: Bonino buries beautiful dish from Guentzel
Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella was impressed with his team's response after falling behind by two goals twice.
"We put in some good minutes," Tortorella said. "It's a good point. It's a really good point being down by a couple heading into the third, but you're always looking to get that second one. … There was a lot of the game that I liked. I think we need to finish on a couple of [chances], as they did."
Murray made 28 saves; Bobrovsky made 29.
Goal of the game
Defenseman Kris Letang one-timed a slap shot off of Boone Jenner, which slid to Kessel on the inner-edge of the right circle, where his shot went past Bobrovsky for the overtime goal.
Video: CBJ@PIT: Kessel scores game-winning goal in overtime
Save of the game
Murray preserved Pittsburgh's 2-0 lead with 8:49 remaining in the second period after Kessel turned the puck over at the blue line. The puck was chipped to Brandon Saad, who skated in alone on Murray with Nick Foligno to his right. Saad faked a shot and passed to Foligno, who was denied when Murray slid over to stop his wrist shot.
Video: CBJ@PIT: Murray thwarts Blue Jackets' odd-man rush
Highlight of the game
Atkinson scored the second third-period goal for Columbus after Dubinsky backhanded a shot into the crease. He gained possession away from Trevor Daley and batted a shot past Murray.
Video: CBJ@PIT: Atkinson slams home Dubinsky's no-look pass
Unsung performance of the game
After playing most of the first period in their own end, the Penguins sustained possession in the offensive zone on one shift late in the period. With the puck trickling toward the blue line, Letang kept the pressure going by charging across to keep it in, which eventually led to Kessel's first-period goal after a change.
Video: CBJ@PIT: Kessel snipes a nifty top-shelf wrist shot
They said it
"Obviously, within our division, we don't want to give points away like that. We do gain one on them, which is nice. … But come the stretch, we're not going to be able to give points away like that." -- Penguins forward Nick Bonino
"We didn't get the result we wanted, but I think we got back to playing the way we need to in order to get some wins and I think, for the most part, if we play like that, we're going to get the full result." -- Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky
Need to know
Penguins forward Matt Cullen returned from a foot injury that sidelined him for six games. He replaced Conor Sheary, who will miss 4-6 weeks with an upper-body injury, at left wing on Crosby's line. … Blue Jackets defenseman Markus Nutivaara missed his eighth game with an undisclosed injury. ... Kessel has 17 goals and 33 assists to reach 50 points for the ninth straight season.
Blue Jackets: Host the New Jersey Devils on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; FS-O, MSG, NHL.TV)
Penguins: At the St. Louis Blues on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; FS-MW, ROOT, NHL.TV)
Video: Kessel's OT winner gives Pens 4-3 win over Jackets