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Blue Jackets best Pens for ninth straight win

Apr 5, 2015 - 1:56 AM Columbus, OH ( - Nick Foligno's first career hat trick catapulted the red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets to a franchise-record ninth straight win, a 5-3 come-from-behind decision over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Foligno accounted for two of four straight Columbus goals that erased a 2-0 deficit deep into the second period, then sealed the historic result with an empty-netter in the final minute.

"It's special. Amazing, actually," Foligno said of his feat. "I have (Brandon Dubinsky) to thank for all of them."

Dubinsky assisted on all three of Foligno's markers to aid the Jackets' latest comeback, while Matt Calvert and Scott Hartnell also scored in support of Sergei Bobrovsky's 33 saves.

Columbus has trailed at some point in all but one of its victories during the streak.

"The way it's going, we should pull our goaltender the first five minutes, give them a couple of goals and then play," Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards joked.

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Sutter and Ben Lovejoy had goals in a potentially costly loss for Pittsburgh, which lost ground to the New York Islanders and Washington in the race for two of the top three spots in the Metropolitan Division after both teams picked up points Saturday night.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 30-of-34 shots and Ian Cole contributed a pair of assists for the Penguins.

The Blue Jackets reversed momentum with a pair of goals just over two minutes apart in the second period, then surged ahead on tallies from Foligno and Hartnell within a 2:43 span in the third.

Foligno began the rally by causing a turnover in the Pittsburgh zone that led to a two-on-none between he and Dubinsky, which Foligno finished to bring Columbus within 2-1 with 3:35 remaining in the stanza.

"That gave them some life, gave them momentum, and that let them back in the game," Penguins head coach Mike Johnston said of the giveaway.

Calvert successfully followed up an initial attempt that struck the crossbar to knot the score 1:32 prior to the second intermission, and another takeaway from Foligno enabled the Blue Jackets to move in front 6:46 into the third.

Dubinsky fired a shot from the right side off Fleury's chest following the turnover, with a trailing Foligno chipping in the rebound for a 3-2 advantage.

Hartnell made it 4-2 by stuffing home a loose puck in the crease as play continued at 9:29 of the third, though Lovejoy quickly erased the two-goal differential with a blast from near the blue line that got through a crowd just 41 seconds later.

The Penguins were awarded a power play on a tripping call to Jack Johnson with 7:30 left, but Bobrovsky made two good stops on Patric Hornqvist and Columbus was able to kill off the penalty.

Foligno completed the hat trick with a wrister into a vacated net during a 2- on-1 with Boone Jenner that came with 56.2 seconds on the final clock.

The Penguins had gotten off to a strong start, forcing Bobrovsky to make a tough save on Daniel Winnik's breakaway less than two minutes in and grabbing a 1-0 edge on Crosby's goal with 8:21 elapsed.

Cole set up the Pittsburgh captain's score by keeping the puck in the Columbus end and sending a backhand pass that Crosby knocked in while uncovered in front of the net.

Sutter extended the lead by converting a give-and-go feed from Cole through heavy traffic with 8:53 left in the second period.

Game Notes

Pittsburgh played its second straight game without star forward Evgeni Malkin, sidelined by an undisclosed injury ... The Blue Jackets have been behind in 11 of their last 12 victories ... Foligno notched the second hat trick by a Columbus player in five games, with Cam Atkinson accomplishing the feat at Chicago on March 27 ... Marko Dano had two assists for the Jackets, but teammate Ryan Johansen had a nine-game point streak halted ... Including last year's playoffs, the Penguins had gone 7-0-2 in their previous nine visits to Nationwide Arena ... Crosby now has 20 points (6 goals, 14 assists) in 14 career meetings with Columbus.