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Penguins increase lead on Blue Jackets in Metro

Pittsburgh moves three points ahead of Columbus for second in division

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins increased their lead for second place in the Metropolitan Division by defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday.

Pittsburgh (49-19-11) is three points ahead of Columbus (49-22-8) and five points behind the Washington Capitals in the division. The Capitals defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1.

The Penguins, Blue Jackets and Capitals each have three games remaining.

 

WATCH: All Blue Jackets vs. Penguins highlights

 

"We're just going to play," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "We're going to play our game. Teams are going to play against us and they're going to try to play their game. What I love about our players and our team is I know that we're brave. I know we play with courage. I know that we can play through things.

"This team has shown an ability to do that not only this year, but last year, most importantly, when the stakes were high at the most important time of the year. … Our focus is going to be on playing our game."

Columbus has lost its past four games (0-3-1) and has scored fewer than three goals in six of its past seven.

Video: CBJ@PIT: Rowney deflects home Wilson's shot

"We're definitely going to have to score more than one goal. [The Penguins are] too good of a team," Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson said. "We're going to have to do ourselves a favor and get some offense going here. We also can't give up four, but the biggest thing tonight is they only needed two to win."

Carter Rowney gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 18:51 of the first period with his second goal of the season. Scott Wilson drove down the left wing before passing through Brandon Dubinsky to Rowney, who was battling Johnson above the crease. Rowney tipped it past Sergei Bobrovsky's glove for his second NHL goal.

Patric Hornqvist made it 2-0 with his 20th goal of the season. He one-timed a pass from Tom Kuhnhackl over Bobrovsky's glove at 9:26 of the second period.

Video: CBJ@PIT: Guentzel gets fortunate goal off his knee

Brian Dumoulin extended the lead to 3-0 with his first goal of the season at 12:30 of the second period. It was upheld after Columbus used a coach's challenge saying Pittsburgh was offside.

The goal, which ended his 150-game drought, was Dumoulin's first since Dec. 15, 2014.

Jake Guentzel scored his third goal in three games since returning from a concussion to make it 4-0 33 seconds into the third period before Dubinsky cut it to 4-1 with a shorthanded goal at 10:20.

Matt Murray made 38 saves for Pittsburgh.

"Every point is huge right now," Murray said. "I'm not going to sugarcoat that."

Bobrovsky made 23 saves for Columbus. He has lost his past three starts in regulation.

Video: CBJ@PIT: Murray uses his body to deny Saad

 

Goal of the game

After receiving a pass from Guentzel, Dumoulin skated behind the goal, which caused Bobrovsky to drift out of position. Dumoulin shot off Cam Atkinson and in for his second regular-season NHL goal. He scored twice in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Video: CBJ@PIT: Dumoulin beats Bobrovsky with a wraparound

 

Save of the game

Conor Sheary had a chance to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead with 7:53 remaining in the first period when Phil Kessel set him up with a cross-ice pass. Bobrovsky denied Sheary by falling forward to make a glove save.

Video: CBJ@PIT: Bobrovsky gets across for a great glove save

 

Highlight of the game

Kuhnhackl sped past defenseman Kyle Quincey down the near wall before slipping a pass under a diving Quincey and past Seth Jones' stick. Hornqvist charged toward the right post for the pass and shot past Bobrovksy.

Video: CBJ@PIT: Hornqvist nets Kuhnhackl's dish on the rush

 

Unsung performance of the game

Kessel didn't score but was possibly Pittsburgh's most active offensive performer. He led the Penguins with eight shots, five more than defenseman Justin Schultz.

 

They said it

"We know that [the division is] pretty tight and we're trying to make sure we're playing the right way down the stretch." -- Penguins captain Sidney Crosby

 

"You just have to keep working. You have to try to do the right things and play the right way. Trust the process. ... We just have to play better that way. It wasn't good enough tonight." -- Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky

 

"We give up a free one at the end of the first period. It was just a kick in the teeth. That's just a free goal. … We just have to keep on grinding away and try to find our offense." -- Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella

 

Need to know

Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand returned from an upper-body injury after missing six games. He had one shot in 14:12 of ice time. ... The Penguins were 31-6-4 at PPG Paints Arena this season. ... Wilson played his 100th NHL game. ... Penguins forwards Bryan Rust and Matt Cullen each left the game with an undisclosed injury. Sullivan said he would likely have an update on Wednesday.

 

What's next

Blue Jackets: Host the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; FS-O, TSN3, NHL.TV)

Penguins: At the New Jersey Devils on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; SN360, MSG+, ROOT, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Four different Pens score in win vs. Blue Jackets

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