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Sullivan gets first win, Penguins defeat Blue Jackets

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- Mike Sullivan got his first win as coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and goalie Matthew Murray got his first NHL win in a 5-2 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Consol Energy Center on Monday.

Sullivan lost his first four games since taking over for Mike Johnston on Dec. 12. The Penguins were outscored 15-4.

"Obviously, it's a relief," Sullivan said. "Everybody here wants to win. Everybody cares. When you go through a slide, everybody squeezes their stick a little bit more, and dealing with those pressures is part of the challenge. So, obviously to get a win tonight, before the Christmas break, I think guys can feel good about themselves."

Murray made 22 saves in his second NHL start. He made 24 saves in a 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.

"I think I made a couple saves when I needed to," Murray said. "I didn't have to be spectacular to win the game, but I think I was there when I needed to be, and I'd like to have one or two of those goals back, but I always say that, and we got the win. That's what matters, and I'm excited to get my first win out of the way."

The Penguins (16-14-3) were without captain Sidney Crosby (lower body) but scored four goals in the second period, including two by Phil Kessel , to take a 4-1 lead.

The Blue Jackets (13-20-3) had won two straight games.

"They have a good team over there," Columbus forward Brandon Dubinsky said. "We had too many turnovers and we just didn't win enough battles. I didn't win enough battles. I spent the majority of the game in my own zone. I have to be a catalyst. Getting on the forecheck. Being physical. Creating scoring chances. I didn't do any of that tonight."

Columbus took a 1-0 lead after defenseman Fedor Tyutin 's shot ricocheted off the end boards and through Pittsburgh's crease. The puck slid past Penguins defenseman Trevor Daley and forward Evgeni Malkin before finding forward Alexander Wennberg , who one-timed a wrist shot past Murray 5:41 into the first period.

"I thought we had a good start, and the first five, 10 minutes we were playing well," Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner said. "It kind of got away from us at the end of the period and we didn't have anything to push back in the second or third."

The Blue Jackets seemed poised to take a two-goal lead when Penguins forward Matt Cullen was called for a slashing penalty with Malkin already in the penalty box for elbowing, giving Columbus a 5-on-3 for 1:24 with 7:54 remaining in the first.

Pittsburgh defenseman Ben Lovejoy saved one potential goal, but Columbus didn't generate much else during the two-man advantage that ended with one Blue Jackets shot.

"I thought we changed when we did squat on that 5-on-3. I thought things changed right there," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "It's just something where we have to park that. It was a lousy 5-on-3, but you have to park that. We weren't playing too bad up to that point. I just thought our whole game changed from there.

"Then, they played harder. They played harder than we did tonight and that's why they won."

After David Perron 's shot was caught in Dalton Prout 's skates to the right of the Blue Jackets crease, Malkin tied the game 1-1 with a wrist shot through goalie Joonas Korpisalo 3:06 into the second period. Malkin's goal was his eighth on the power play.

Kessel gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead 1:18 later. Forward Scott Wilson sent Kessel on a breakaway with a pass an outstretched Kessel corralled with the tip of his stick blade. He faked a shot before placing a wrist shot under Korpisalo's glove.

Wilson's assist was his first NHL point in his second regular-season game.

Kessel scored again when he dropped to one knee to one-time a pass from Nick Bonino past Korpisalo's stick blade with 4:00 remaining in the second. The goals were Kessel's 10th and 11th of the season, and his first since scoring twice against the San Jose Sharks on Dec. 1.

"I felt good," Kessel said. "I hadn't scored in a while. It's nice to get one, and that's a big win for us heading into the break."

Defenseman David Warsofsky pushed Pittsburgh's lead to 4-1 on a power-play slap shot with 45 seconds remaining in the second.

Malkin temporarily left the game after taking a knee-to-knee hit from Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner 7:03 into the second period. Bonino replaced him on the first line before Malkin returned a few minutes later.

Jenner scored 5:23 into the third period to make it 4-2. Malkin scored an empty-net goal with 1:29 remaining.

"I thought [Malkin] played real well," Sullivan said. "I thought he was a force. He's been a consistent threat game-in and game-out since I've been here."

Murray was the 83rd pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. He was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on Dec. 15 because goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has a concussion.

Sullivan won 70 games as coach of the Boston Bruins from 2003-06.

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