PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – After a dominating win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, the Penguins kept the momentum rolling against the Columbus Blue Jackets Sunday afternoon.
Third period goals by Pascal Dupuis, Kris Letang and Joe Vitale broke a 1-1 tie and propelled the Penguins to a 4-2 win.
Brad Thiessen made his NHL debut and was eased into the action as the Penguins outshot the Blue Jackets 15-5 in the period. Thiessen made 22 saves for his first NHL win.
However, of the five shots he faced in the first period, two were solid scoring opportunities from point-blank range.
- Photo Gallery: Penguins Defeat Blue Jackets, 4-2
In the second period, it was the Blue Jackets who got on the board first.
While on the power play, the Penguins turned the puck over in the neutral zone. Nikita Nikitin passed the puck off the boards behind the Penguins’ defense.
Rick Nash raced to the puck and beat Thiessen to the blocker side on a breakaway for his 21st goal of the year.
It was starting to look like Curtis Sanford was going to be unbeatable in the contest, but Evgeni Malkin got the Penguins on the board late in the first period.
While on the power play, Steve Sullivan raced down the wall to block a clearing attempt. James Neal picked up the loose puck and found Malkin streaking to the net all alone. Malkin received the pass cleanly and his shot deflected into the net off of a defenseman in front.
The goal was Malkin’s 37th of the season.
In the third period, the Penguins could have blown the game wide open had it not been for two disallowed goals.
Chris Kunitz had a rebound go into the net off his skate, which was reviewed. However, it was determined that he kicked the puck into the net and the goal was waived off.
Later in the period, Letang appeared to score just four seconds into a power play, but the goal was disallowed once again because of incidental goaltender interference by Kunitz. Television replays showed Sanford initiating the contact, but the goal was still waived off.
Dupuis gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead with a low shot from a bad angle after a great job of cycling by his linemates.
Seconds after Letang’s goal was waived off, he ripped a slap shot off the far post and into the net behind Sanford to put Pittsburgh up 3-1.
With about five minutes to play in the third period, Joe Vitale outworked the Columbus defense, chipped a puck on goal that deflected off of Sanford and the post and landed on the goal line. Vitale’s second effort pushed the puck over the line to put Pittsburgh up 4-1.
Eric Tangradi was credited with his first point of the season with an assist on Vitale’s goal.
Just 10 seconds after Vitale’s goal, Vinny Prospal took a cross-ice feed from Cam Atkinson and ripped a wrist shot by Thiessen to cut the lead to 4-2.
With the win, the Penguins move ahead of idle Philadelphia into fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 77 points.
Pittsburgh entered the game with a one-point lead over the New Jersey, but saw it grow to three points after the Devils lost to the Lightning.
The Penguins will now head to Dallas to take on the Stars Wednesday night.
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