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Penguins chase Bobrovsky in first of back-to-back

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has had success against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center.

That wasn't evident Friday. The Penguins chased Bobrovsky 3:01 into the second period during their 4-2 win, the first of a back-to-back that continues Saturday in Columbus.

"I think a lot of it was we were opportunistic," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "Thirteen shots, 14 shots, and we had four goals. But we did a good job going to the net."

Brandon Sutter put the Penguins up 2-0 after he carried the puck past Jack Johnson, creating a 2-on-1 with Craig Adams. Sutter looked toward Adams, forcing David Savard to commit to a possible pass by sliding forward, then wristed a shot through Bobrovsky's five-hole 1:10 into the second.

Sutter scored his first goal of the season in a 3-2 win against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday.

"It's definitely one of those things that sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn't," Sutter said. "Fortunately, the last couple nights, it has. I don't pay too much attention to trying to go in and score goals all of the time. I just worry about my game.

"It's nice to get a couple and kind of get the monkey off the back and hopefully try to stay hot."

Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang sent a slap shot into the Columbus net 1:51 later to chase Bobrovsky, who entered the game 5-1-0 with a 2.67 goals-against average against the Penguins in Pittsburgh. The 2013 Vezina Trophy winner made 10 saves on 13 shots.

Backup Curtis McElhinney didn't fare much better. Jayson Megna scored the second goal of his four-game NHL career to put Pittsburgh up 4-0. The Penguins scored three goals, and the Blue Jackets had two shots, 5:34 into the second period.

Derek MacKenzie scored his first goal of the season to cut Columbus' deficit to 4-1 with 10:04 left in the period. The Blue Jackets outshot the Penguins 27-18 through 40 minutes.

Ryan Johansen scored Columbus' second goal with 45.1 seconds left in the game.

"Our second periods and starts to that period haven't been our best," Johansen said. "We've got to find ways to play those 60-minute games, and every time we jump over the boards, we have to be ready.

"We're in these games and we're doing a lot of good things against these good teams and we're just not finding ways to win."

The Blue Jackets have allowed at least one second-period goal in 10 of their 12 games.

Marc-Andre Fleury made several acrobatic saves to maintain Pittsburgh's comfortable lead. Several of Columbus' 16 first-period shots forced Fleury to sprawl in his crease, but the goaltender was able to make the stop each time.

On one of Columbus' two first-period power plays, RJ Umberger fired a shot that forced Fleury to fall forward. The puck bounced out to Johansen, who seemed to have an empty net, but Fleury flashed his right pad to keep the Blue Jackets off the board.

"I thought Marc-Andre was without question the best player on the ice tonight," Bylsma said. "They had a couple flurries on their power play, some great chances to score, and he was very good, very strong, and he was the difference in the game."

Fleury, who made 37 saves, has allowed two goals or fewer in nine of his 12 starts and leads the NHL with 10 wins, one more than San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi.

"They got a few shots right away. It's good to get into the game," Fleury said. "They're a good team and they play hard. A little action makes it fun."

Evgeni Malkin drew a hooking penalty on Savard while streaking toward the Columbus net. Six seconds later, Pittsburgh had a 1-0 lead.

Paul Martin took the puck off of Sidney Crosby's faceoff win and sent a shot into traffic, where Chris Kunitz deflected the puck past Bobrovsky for his third power-play goal of the season at 7:23 of the first period. Kunitz has scored six of his seven goals over his past nine games.

Crosby's assist gave him a League-leading 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists), three more than Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos. The Penguins are 10-2-0 when Crosby scores a point, 0-2-0 when he does not.

Pittsburgh finished 2-for-4 with the man-advantage; Columbus failed to score on its four chances.

Pittsburgh nearly went 3-for-3 on the power play when Malkin roofed a shot past McElhinney early in the third period. The play was reviewed and it was ruled the puck hit the crossbar and slid across the goal line without fully crossing into the net.

Columbus (5-7-0), 10 points behind first-place Pittsburgh (10-4-0) in the Metropolitan Division, will attempt to rebound at Nationwide Arena.

"We have no choice," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "All we have is about 22 hours or so, 23 hours, and we're lining up against the same team again. We have no choice but to do that.

"We'll go back over the tape and might have to make a couple roster adjustments."

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