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Blue Jackets start fast, fade in loss

04/17/2014, 12:59am EDT
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

Columbus’ Brandon Dubinsky, left, can’t score against Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury during the first period on Wednesday. The Blue Jackets lost Game 1. ASSOCIATED PRESS

PITTSBURGH — Brandon Sutter scored on a wrist shot from the left circle 8 minutes, 18 seconds into the third period, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins rally for a 4-3 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Wednesday night.

Beau Bennett and Matt Niskanen scored power-play goals 45 seconds apart in the second period, erasing Pittsburgh’s two-goal deficit. Jussi Jokinen also scored for the Penguins and Marc-Andre Fleury overcame some shaky defense to stop 31 shots.

Game 2 is Saturday night.

Jack Johnson, Mark Letestu, and Derek Mackenzie scored for the Blue Jackets, who fell to 0-5 all-time in postseason games. Sergei Bobrovsky finished with 28 saves but was handcuffed by Sutter’s knuckling wrister at the end of a 2-on-1 break.

The Blue Jackets insisted they wouldn’t be intimidated despite Pittsburgh’s overwhelming edge in playoff experience and star power. The Penguins also swept the five regular-season meetings between the two teams.

It took Columbus a period to go out and prove it.

Johnson gave the Blue Jackets their first-ever postseason lead 6:20 into the game, charging to the front of the net and taking a feed from Brandon Dubinsky before beating Fleury with a beautiful deke from his forehand to his backhand.

The Penguins answered with 2:51 left in the first when Evgeni Malkin — returning after missing three weeks with a foot injury — took advantage of a turnover by Fedor Tyutin and hit Jokinen in the slot. The knuckling wrist shot sailed over Bobrovsky’s right shoulder and Pittsburgh exhaled.

But only briefly.

With Pittsburgh defenseman Rob Scuderi off for interference, the Blue Jackets went back in front 2-1 when Letestu jammed home a rebound. The Columbus lead grew to 3-1 just 43 seconds into the second.

CANADIENS 5, LIGHTNING 4: At Tampa, Dale Weise scored 18:08 into overtime as Montreal won the opening game of its Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series.

Daniel Briere fed a pass to Weise from behind the net to set up the winner against Anders Lindback, who stopped 39 of 44 shots while filling in for injured goaltender Ben Bishop.

Carey Price stopped 21 shots for the Canadiens, who blew a pair of third-period leads. Brian Gionta had a short-handed goal, and Tomas Plekanec, Lars Eller and Thomas Vanek also scored for Montreal.

Steven Stamkos scored twice for Tampa Bay, including the goal that forced overtime. Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Friday night.

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