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Dupuis pushes Pens past Blue Jackets

Feb 26, 2012 - 11:21 PM
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Pascal Dupuis scored the go-ahead goal as the Pittsburgh Penguins used a three-goal third period to top the Columbus Blue Jackets, 4-2, at CONSOL Energy Center.

Evgeni Malkin followed up his four-point performance on Saturday against Tampa Bay with a goal, while Kris Letang and Joe Vitale also scored for the Pens, who have won three straight games. Steve Sullivan and Matt Cooke added two assists apiece and Brad Thiessen made 22 saves in a victorious NHL debut.

"The most interesting part of the game for him (Thiessen) was going behind the net and playing the puck," Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said of his netminder's performance. "He was strong and aggressive, challenging shooters out at the top of his crease. As the game went on, you could see he was comfortable in the net."

Rick Nash scored what may have been his final tally in a Columbus uniform as trade rumors swirl ahead of Monday's deadline, and Vinny Prospal also lit the lamp for the Jackets, who have dropped four of their last five games. Curtis Sanford was tagged for all four goals on 40 shots in defeat.

With the game tied at one heading into the final period, the Penguins took control in the third with three consecutive goals.

Dupuis lit the lamp just 5:50 into the frame when he collected a loose puck behind the net, glided around to the right circle and fired a quick wrist shot into the far corner to give the Pens the lead for good at 2-1.

Letang made it a 3-1 game at 10:47 when he took a pass at the top of the right circle following a mad scramble in front and blasted a slap shot that again snuck into the far corner past Sanford.

Cooke found a loose disc right in front of the net and had several whacks at it that were stopped by Sanford, but Vitale came up with the shot from in close that beat the Columbus netminder at 14:57 to give Pittsburgh a comfortable 4-1 advantage.

Prospal found the net with a wrister from the left circle that got under the right arm of Thiessen just 10 seconds later to give the Jackets some late life, but they could not muster any more offense.

"I was really disappointed with our third period," Blue Jackets interim head coach Todd Richards said. "We talked about puck management before the game. When we needed to get the puck deep and get a play, we didn't. Turnovers fed their offense."

After a scoreless first period, the Blue Jackets struck first at 9:49 of the second stanza.

Skating down a man, Nash corralled a perfect bank-pass from Nikita Nikitin in the Pittsburgh zone, went in alone and beat Thiessen with a stick side wrister to give the Jackets the lead.

The Penguins responded to tie the game on the power play with just 47 seconds remaining in the second stanza.

James Neal intercepted a Columbus clearing attempt along the left wing boards. He kicked the puck out of his skates and sent a cross-ice pass right to the tape of Malkin, who fired a rising wrister over the right shoulder of Sanford from the right circle.

Game Notes

The Pens lead the all-time series between the teams, 9-4-1...Pittsburgh is 6-6-1 this season in the second leg of back-to-back situations...Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for center Jeff Carter, made his debut on Sunday. Johnson was a minus-1 in just over 22 minutes of ice time...The Penguins are 15-4-1 in their last 20 games...Pittsburgh finished 2-for-5 on the power play, while the Blue Jackets failed to score on two power play opportunities.