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Penguins doomed by second-period penalties

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- The Columbus Blue Jackets' rally for a Game 4 victory at Nationwide Arena on Wednesday started with Boone Jenner's power-play goal in the first period, but a big reason the Pittsburgh Penguins lost 4-3 in overtime was their parade to the penalty box in the later stages of the second period.

Columbus dominated the middle period thanks to four consecutive power plays in the final eight-plus minutes, during which Ryan Johansen scored a 5-on-3 goal to make it 3-2.

Brandon Dubinsky then scored with 24 seconds left in regulation to tie the game, and Nick Foligno wristed home the winner with a long shot that beat Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury at 2:49 of overtime.

The Eastern Conference First Round series is tied 2-2. Game 5 of the best-of-7 series is in Pittsburgh on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said the Penguins did not ease up after going ahead 3-0 in the first 11:10 of the game on goals by Craig Adams, Chris Kunitz and James Neal.

Pittsburgh led 9-7 in shots after Neal's goal, but the Blue Jackets outshot the Penguins 39-16 the rest of the game.

"In getting a 3-0 lead, and 3-1, and having a lead for that long in the game, the mindset is not to take the foot off the gas and play D zone for the rest of the game," Bylsma said.

But the Blue Jackets kept coming.

"[Penalties were] a big portion of them pushing forward," Bylsma said. "They were coming hard at that point, and a lot of it was the eight minutes of power play."

Pittsburgh forward Lee Stempniak was called for a double minor for high sticking against Columbus defenseman Nick Schultz at 11;53. The Penguins went down two men at 13:36 when Brandon Sutter sent the puck over the glass in the defensive zone for a delay of game penalty.

The Blue Jackets took advantage. Dubinsky sent a pass from the left side through the crease, where Columbus center Artem Anisimov got a piece of it, and Johansen was off to the side to bury his second playoff goal.

The Blue Jackets' first-ever home playoff win marked the fourth time in the series the final score was 4-3. Before Pittsburgh blew the 3-0 lead Wednesday, the losing team had surrendered a 3-1 lead in each of the first three games.

"We've seen leads dissipate in this series," Foligno said. "The way we played in the second and third periods was our style of hockey. We hemmed them in."

The Blue Jackets players praised the roaring crowd of 18,970 that stood and cheered for the last half of the third period.

"We're down 3-0, and they stuck with it," Dubinsky said. "It gives us a lot of life. It gives us a lot of energy."

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