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Sutter's Goal Rallies Penguins To 4-3 Win Over Blue Jackets

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[April 17, 2014]  PITTSBURGH  Center Brandon Sutter wasn't thinking about being the hero, just on finding the back of the net.

Sutter's goal with 11:42 remaining capped a rally from a two-goal deficit as the Pittsburgh Penguins got past the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 on Wednesday night in Game 1 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.

Sutter scored on a wrist shot from the circle after taking a pass from right winger Beau Bennett on a rush play to continue the Penguins' dominance of the Blue Jackets this season. Pittsburgh won all five games against Columbus during the regular season and the Blue Jackets held the lead for just 56 seconds in those games.

"You're coming down looking for something," Sutter said. "I figured I had to shoot it. You just try to pick a side and go for it. Sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn't but fortunately tonight it did and it turned out to be the winner. It was a good win. We stuck with it and bounced back."

The Blue Jackets put up a more representative showing this time against the Penguins, building a two-goal lead early in the second period, but they were not able to come away with the first playoff win in the franchise's 14-year history.


The Blue Jackets' only other playoff appearance came in 2009 when they were swept in four games in the first round by the Detroit Red Wings.

"We played a good game," Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson said. "We just let it get away. They're going to be ups and downs throughout a playoff series. We've got a long way to go."

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series will be played Saturday night in Pittsburgh.

Bennett, left winger Jussi Jokinen and defenseman Matt Niskanen also scored for the Penguins. Center Evgeni Malkin had two assists as he returned to the lineup after missing the final 11 games of the regular season with a foot injury.

Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who was benched in the playoffs last season, made 30 saves. He is just 15-16 in the postseason since helping Pittsburgh to back-to-back Stanley Cup finals appearances in 2008 and 2009.

"There were a lot of responses from our team over the course of the game," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "We didn't necessarily play well at times but we responded to every challenge Columbus threw at us."

Johnson scored for the Blue Jackets and also had an assist and six blocked shots while centers Mark Letestu and Derek MacKenzie also had goals.

Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 28 shots.


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When it was suggested to Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards that Game 1 represented a moral victory for a team with 13 players making their playoff debut, he bristled at the thought.

"We're here to win, not just for it to be a learning experience," Richards said. "The learning comes from playing in the game and you can learn by winning as much or more than you can by losing."

The Penguins scored twice on the power play in the span of 45 seconds early in the second period to tie the score at 3, capping a flurry of goals in the first 2:19 of the period.

After MacKenzie pushed the Blue Jackets' lead to 3-1 with a short-handed goal 43 seconds in, Bennett answered 51 seconds later then Niskanen scored the tying goal 45 seconds after that.

MacKenzie became the eighth player in NHL history to score his first playoff goal short-handed and first since Brad Werenka in 1998 for the Penguins.

"We found a way to win," Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. "We didn't start off the way we wanted, getting down two goals. I think we have some things to clean up but it's good to get the first one.


NOTES: The Penguins sent F Chris Conner (foot) to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL on a conditioning assignment Wednesday after he missed the last 40 games of the regular season. ... Pittsburgh C Joe Vitale to return to action after a mid-body injury sidelined him for the last nine games of the regular season. ... The Blue Jackets are hopeful LW Nick Foligno (lower body) and C RJ Umberger (upper body) will be ready for Game 2 after they took part in a practice following the morning skate. ... Columbus C Brandon Dubinsky was credited with nine hits. ... NHL commissioner Gary Bettman attended the game.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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