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COLUMBUS — Brandon Sutter, Lee Stempniak and Olli Maatta scored in a span of 2:13 of the third period to revive the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night.
Pittsburgh took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven playoff series thanks to the goals on three consecutive shots.
Brooks Orpik added a goal in the final seconds of the second period as the Penguins stormed back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-1. Marc Andre-Fleury had 27 saves.
Boone Jenner and Jack Johnson staked the Blue Jackets to an early lead in the opening 3:18, with Cam Atkinson getting credit for a goal early in the final period that stretched the lead to 3-1.
But then the Penguins found their game, dominating with a 41-20 advantage in shots on goal and controlling the pace to disappoint a raucous overflow crowd of 19,148.
Beau Bennett and Paul Martin each had two assists for the Penguins, as did Brandon Dubinsky for the Blue Jackets, who were trying for their first playoff victory at home. They were 0-5 in the postseason until pulling off a stunning 4-3 double-overtime victory Saturday night in Pittsburgh.
Down 3-1 after Dubinsky’s twirling backhander went in off Atkinson’s glove just over a minute into the final period, the Penguins found another gear.
Martin’s shot from the point was redirected by Sutter cut the lead to a goal. Stempniak took a short pass from Kris Letang and waded in from the right wing, beating goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who finished with 37 saves, 1:10 later.
Then Maatta’s shot from the point glanced in off defenseman James Wisniewski, thoroughly deflating a crowd waiting to celebrate an historic win.
All three games have ended up 4-3, with one team building a 3-1 edge.
Columbus’ last best chance came with 30 seconds left when Fleury made a blocker save on Ryan Johansen’s hard shot.
For years, Penguins fans flooded into Nationwide Arena and had little opposition when they led “Let’s go, Pens!” cheers. But Columbus’ front office sold playoff tickets to Ohio addresses first, cutting down on long-distance buyers. As a result, the crowd was loud and decidedly partisan for the Blue Jackets.