Crosby scored at 10:51 of the third to give the Penguins the lead
for good in a game that was tight for 2 1/2 periods. He also
assisted on right winger Chris Kunitz's power-play goal two minutes
later to pad the lead.
Penguins left winger James Neal had a hat trick, capping it with
2:27 to play and prompting a rain of hats from the thousands of
Pittsburgh fans who made the three-hour drive to help pack
Nationwide with 18,871.
The Penguins scored three power-play goals, two by Neal.
"When Neal is shooting the puck like that, he makes a lot of people
look good," Crosby said. "(My goal) was one of those where you just
keep going to the net and hope for the best.
"It wasn't a clean play by any stretch, and I actually never saw the
puck go in. But it was tucked under the goalie's arm pit and feel
into the net. It was a big goal for us."
Pittsburgh backup goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, making his second start
against the Jackets this season, finished with 25 saves.
Left winger Brandon Dubinsky, right winger Corey Tropp and
defenseman Nikita Nikitin scored for the Blue Jackets, while
goaltender Curtis McElhinney made 25 saves.
The Penguins (29-11-1) won all four meetings between the
Metropolitan Division teams this season and are 14-4 vs. division
The Blue Jackets (17-18-4) saw their season-best three-game winning
"You just can't take that many penalties," Blue Jackets coach Todd
Richards said. "When you give them that much time (on the power
play) ... it's just a matter of time before they score. They're too
good for any penalty kill to keep them quiet when you give them that
many chances. They'll take over the game."
[to top of second column]
Crosby took over in the third.
As the period moved past the midpoint with the game tied 2-2,
Crosby carried the puck with speed into the Jackets' zone, and
Crosby tried to feather the puck to Kunitz as he crossed the
The puck caromed off Blue Jackets' defenseman Fedor Tyutin and
was caught between Tyutin and McElhinney when they collided. The
force sent McElhinney tumbling backward, and the puck trickled
into the net at 10:51.
That opened the floodgates.
Just 2:07 later, Crosby centered a pass to Kunitz for a snap
wrister that beat McElhinney to make it 4-2.
"I'm not sure you can defend it or even draw it up for them when
they're going like that on the power play," Penguins coach Dan
Bylsma said. "The Blue Jackets played hard in this one an awful
lot. They got in on the forecheck, they hemmed us in a few
times. But we weathered the storm, and when we got
opportunities, we came up big."
Neal made it 5-2 with his 23rd goal of the season and the fourth
hat trick of his career with 2:27 to play.
NOTES: Penguins D Rob Scuderi returned to the lineup after
missing 29 games with a fractured ankle. ... Penguins C Evgeni
Malkin (lower body) missed his seventh consecutive game, but he
could return to face the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. Columbus
plays the Avalanche in Colorado on Tuesday. ... The Blue Jackets
recalled RW Ryan Craig from AHL Springfield, but they returned
him shortly after the game started, as C Derek MacKenzie was
able to dress. ... Two Columbus teammates, C Brandon Dubinsky
and RW Blake Comeau, said there were no lingering effects from
their fight during Saturday's practice. The two had to be
separated by assistant coach Dan Hinote after throwing several
punches. "It's over," Comeau said. "The boys in the room loved
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