Pens score 2 in the 3rd, take series lead
Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Jussi Jokinen scored to break a tie in the third period and the Pittsburgh Penguins grabbed control of their Eastern Conference opening-round series with a 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Kris Letang added an empty-net goal to seal the victory that gave the Metropolitan Division champs a 3-2 lead in this best-of-seven set. Marc-Andre Fleury made 23 saves for Pittsburgh, which can eliminate the Blue Jackets with a win at Columbus on Monday.
"We have to realize they're going to be as desperate as they've been," said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. "It doesn't get any easier. We know the fourth one is the toughest."
Sergei Bobrovsky gave the Blue Jackets a chance at returning home with a series lead, registering 48 saves.
"It was one of those performances where you come into an opposing rink, that's a game that your goaltender can steal for you," Columbus head coach Todd Richards said. "We just weren't able to do enough in the offensive zone."
Bobrovsky made consecutive stops prior to Jokinen's backhand tap-in at the 6:16 mark of the third.
Fleury preserved the 2-1 lead with a nifty save on a Brandon Dubinsky redirection with just under two minutes remaining.
The Blue Jackets called a timeout and pulled Bobrovsky with 1:49 left, but Letang hit the empty net with 1:01 to play.
Boone Jenner opened the scoring with five seconds left on a first-period power play. There was a scrum around the Pittsburgh crease and Fleury, down on his belly, stretched out in an effort to cover the puck with his glove, but David Savard poked it free. Jenner pounced on the loose puck near the left post at 12:55.
The Columbus rookie had drawn the man advantage when he was slashed by Marcel Goc, who made his series debut. The veteran forward sat out the first four playoff games and final nine games of the regular season with a foot injury.
Pittsburgh responded with a power-play goal of its own in the second period. Chris Kunitz planted himself in front of Bobrovsky, deflected Crosby's shot and put home the rebound past an off-balance netminder at 7:42.
The team that scores first is 0-5 in this series ... Jenner has a point in every game of this series ... Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo made his NHL playoff debut, replacing Brooks Orpik (undisclosed injury) ... Columbus defensemen Fedor Tyutin (lower-body) and Ryan Murray (lower-body) each returned to the lineup. Tyutin missed the previous two games, while Murray was held out of Game 4.
04/27 02:37:11 ET