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Dubinsky's late goal lifts Blue Jackets past Penguins

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- Brandon Dubinsky had a rare night.

Dubinsky fought Sidney Crosby in the second period, then scored a shorthanded goal late in the third to lift the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday.

With 27 seconds left on Kevin Connauton's tripping penalty, Columbus forward Matt Calvert corralled the puck following a neutral-zone turnover and carried it into the Pittsburgh zone. Penguins forward Blake Comeau knocked Calvert off of the puck and into goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, leaving an empty net for Dubinsky, who scored the game-winner with 2:17 remaining.

"It feels great to beat these guys, in their building especially," Dubinsky said. "I just really liked how we stuck with it for 60 (minutes). That's something we've talked about, that consistency and just sticking with our plan. The last game in Philly, we played the first and third (periods) that way. Tonight, I think we played all three.

"Everybody made good plays and stepped up, and obviously that's a great team. We played really well tonight."

The Blue Jackets had a 5-on-3 power play for 1:38 midway through the third period, but they failed to capitalize. At the end of the two-man advantage, Columbus forward Cam Atkinson shot at an empty net, but his shot from the left post went through the crease behind Fleury and wide of the opposite post.

The Blue Jackets (26-27-3) are 2-1-0 through the first three games of their five-game road trip. The Penguins (32-17-9) are 7-11-4 against Metropolitan Division opponents.

Columbus and Pittsburgh entered the third period tied 1-1 following a second period that featured the sixth fight of Crosby's career. After a hit from Dubinksy in the corner, Crosby shoved the Columbus center. Each player dropped his gloves and landed a few punches before Crosby dragged Dubinsky to the ice.

The Consol Energy Center crowd chanted Crosby's name as he and Dubinsky were led to their respective penalty boxes with 5:50 remaining in the second. Crosby had not fought since the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when he squared off against Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux.

"[Crosby's] the best player in the world," Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen said. "If you can aggravate him and get him off of his game, which [Dubinsky] definitely did tonight, that's great. I think that was his best game of the year so far, and he's definitely a big part of the win tonight."

Crosby said nothing in particular caused the fight, saying "it wasn't much of a fight anyway." Penguins coach Mike Johnston said the fight, the killed 5-on-3 and a power play late in the third period were opportunities for Pittsburgh to take hold of the game.

"The fight of Sid, it was at the end of the period, but still it should've been a big rallying point," Johnston said. "I think to a degree, it was. But the 5-on-3 kill, our killers did an outstanding job on that 5-on-3. It's tough to kill a 5-on-3. We've had back-to-back 5-on-3s against us in these last two games, and I don't think we've had a 5-on-3 for ourselves since November maybe. So, it's rare to see that and to kill it is huge, and that's the types of things we should be rallying around.

"We had a power play late, and when you talk about power plays, you have the puck in your hands as a power-play unit late in the game, those are critical moments. Critical moments in games, you need to respond to those."

Columbus dominated the first period, outshooting Pittsburgh 11-7.

Nearing the end of a period riddled with Pittsburgh turnovers, Columbus finally took advantage when Scott Hartnell scored his 14th goal.

Penguins defenseman Derrick Pouliot gained possession behind the Pittsburgh net and whipped the puck around the end boards to Patric Hornqvist by the blue line. Hornqvist turned over the puck before it slipped to Columbus rookie center Alexander Wennberg.

Wennberg sent a pass to the net mouth, where Hartnell was waiting alone. Hartnell went backhand to forehand, avoiding Pouliot, before wrapping a shot around Fleury's right pad for a 1-0 Blue Jackets lead with 2:17 remaining in the first.

Hartnell has at least one point in each of his past eight games. He has 11 points (four goals) during that stretch.

Columbus played well enough to take a multigoal lead into the second period, but Fleury limited the damage with a few timely saves, including one that denied Calvert on a 2-on-1.

After Kris Letang was caught flat-footed in the Blue Jackets zone, Dubinsky carried the puck toward Fleury before flipping a pass to Calvert over Penguins defenseman Paul Martin, who had fallen down. Calvert caught Fleury out of position, but the Pittsburgh goalie stretched to make a blocker save that sent the wrist shot to the corner at 6:40.

Those saves proved to be valuable when Evgeni Malkin tied the game approaching the midpoint of the second period. Martin drove to the net while holding off Connauton and one-handed a shot on net. The puck bounced off of goalie Curtis McElhinney's left pad, creating a rebound just outside of the Columbus crease. Malkin charged toward the net and poked the puck over McElhinney's pad at 8:58 for his 22nd goal, which leads the Penguins.

Outside of Malkin's goal, Pittsburgh struggled to create many scoring chances. Columbus coach Todd Richards credited the Blue Jackets' composure, as well as McElhinney's performance, for the Penguins' lack of potency.

"I thought our guys played a hard, 60-minute game," Richards said. "They're a great hockey team over on the other side and they're going to generate opportunities and chances. I thought we did a good job staying composed and just continually trying to do the right things."

McElhinney made 29 saves.

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