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game recap

Guentzel hat trick sparks Penguins past Blue Jackets

Atkinson ties Columbus record with goal in seventh straight game

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Jake Guentzel scored his first NHL regular-season hat trick to help the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday.

Guentzel had a hat trick in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs and scored four goals in a game during the 2018 playoffs. He leads the Penguins with 11 goals in 22 games and has five in his past four.

"It's always nice to get [a hat trick] in front of your fans," Guentzel said. "Obviously it feels nice. ... We know what it's going to be like when you play these guys. It's going to be hard-nosed and it's going to be a hostile game so I think we were ready for that."

 

[WATCH: All Blue Jackets vs. Penguins highlights]

 

The Penguins scored three straight to take a 3-1 lead after Scott Harrington put the Blue Jackets ahead 1-0 with his first goal of the season at 5:14 of the first period. Tanner Pearson scored his third goal in four games and Guentzel scored twice for Pittsburgh.

Video: CBJ@PIT: Guentzel powers Pens with first career hatty

After Cam Atkinson scored in a seventh straight game to tie a Blue Jackets record, Guentzel backhanded a shot past Joonas Korpisalo to make it 4-2 at 15:54 of the second period.

Casey DeSmith made 37 saves for Pittsburgh (9-8-5), which is 2-0-2 since losing nine of its previous 10 games (1-7-1).

"We're playing the right way," DeSmith said. "Everybody is kind of buying in. We're working the puck down low in the offensive zone. We're taking on responsibility in the defensive zone. All those little things that really go a long way."

Korpisalo made 32 saves for Columbus (13-8-2), which had won four of its previous five games.

"I think one of our weaknesses tonight was around our net," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "I don't think we're strong enough around the net. Their fourth goal, you get worked off a puck there and it's in the net. Listen, I had no problem with how hard we worked. We put in some good, hard minutes. We just couldn't make or execute the next play to generate some offense."

Video: CBJ@PIT: Atkinson scores to tie Blue Jackets record

Pearson tied it 1-1 at 5:59 of the first after Evgeni Malkin won a face-off back to Phil Kessel. The rebound from Kessel's shot bounced to Pearson, who shot past Korpisalo's right pad for his third goal in six games since being acquired from the Los Angeles Kings on Nov. 14.

Sidney Crosby used a backhand pass to set up each of Guentzel's first two goals. The first gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead at 7:27 of the first period, and the second extended it to 3-1 at 16:31. Before the second goal, Crosby powered around Markus Nutivaara and passed to Guentzel near the inner edge of the right face-off circle, where he shot into the upper-left corner.

Atkinson made it 3-2 at 13:04 of the second period. His seven-game goal streak ties Geoff Sanderson's streak from Nov. 5-17, 2002, for the longest in Blue Jackets history. It is also the longest in the NHL this season. 

"It was a nice, lucky goal, I guess," Atkinson said. "I used the guy as a screen and it just happened to go in. That's my game. I just keep shooting. When you have the hot stick you have to shoot a little bit more and good things happen."

Video: CBJ@PIT: Pearson stuffs rebound into the twine

 

They said it

"I think we just didn't have the finish we needed to have in some of those instances. I thought we were just a little too loose on some of our coverages, on rush coverage or in zone. They made us pay. That's a good team. They have firepower. They're dangerous, and we just kind of let them get some pretty easy looks." -- Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno

 

"[Guentzel] has scored a lot of goals for us. ... He's on a pretty good pace. He's a pretty consistent player for us. The thing that I like about Jake is even when he doesn't score he plays the game the right way. ... He just has a high intellect and he reads plays well." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan

 

Need to know

The Blue Jackets are 0-3-3 against the Penguins since they last won 2-1 in overtime on Feb. 17, 2017. ... Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist did not play because of a concussion he sustained during their 2-1 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins on Friday. ... Pittsburgh defenseman Jack Johnson played his former team for the first time since signing a five-year, $16.25 million contract with the Penguins on July 1. He had 154 points (36 goals, 118 assists) in seven seasons with the Blue Jackets. ... Kris Letang, who had three assists, played his 703rd NHL game, tying Brooks Orpik for the Penguins record for most games by a defenseman.

Video: CBJ@PIT: DeSmith extends to his left to deny Wennberg

 

What's next

Blue Jackets: At the Detroit Red Wings on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-D, FS-O, NHL.TV)

Penguins: At the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV)

Video: Guentzel nets hat trick to lead Penguins past Jackets

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