Blue Jackets beat Penguins 5-4 to avoid sweep
By MITCH STACY, AP Sports Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Columbus coach John Tortorella hates the kind of music his players often blare in the dressing room. Still, he really wanted them to be able to hear it again.
After the first three games of the playoff series with Pittsburgh, the Blue Jackets players shed their gear in a room that was nearly silent. That’s the way it happens after a loss.
Before Tuesday’s 5-4 win over the Penguins, Tortorella said he wanted the young team to experience a playoff victory, lousy music and all.
“I wanted them — some guys with limited playoff experience, some of them with none — just to try to enjoy a win,” Tortorella said. “Now we’ll figure out how to go about our business and try to manage the series here.”
Markus Nutivaara, William Karlsson and Boone Jenner each had a goal and an assist, and the Blue Jackets held on to beat the Penguins and avoid a sweep in the best-of-seven playoff series. Nutivaara, a rookie, was making his playoff debut.
Jack Johnson and Josh Anderson also scored for the Blue Jackets, who were able to outlast the Penguins when they pushed back hard in the second and third periods and then got a short-handed goal from Jake Guenztel with 27 seconds left in the game.
“That’s a good team — they can sense the blood in the water,” Tortorella said. “But we got through it.”
Sergei Bobrovsky had 27 saves to help the Blue Jackets get their first playoff win in three years and their first-ever in regulation.
The Penguins now lead 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, which returns to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Thursday night.
Patric Hornqvist, Ron Hainsey and Tom Kuhnhackl also scored for Pittsburgh, and Marc-Andre Fleury — pressed into service because of an injury to Matt Murray at the start of the series — had 29 saves.
Columbus got offense from its lower lines, building leads of 3-1, 4-2 and 4-3 before Jenner poked in a goal amid heavy traffic 5:37 into the third period for a 5-3 lead. Pittsburgh got the late goal but ran out of time.
“You earn your bounces, and they were better” Penguins star forward Sidney Crosby said. “They earned the win, and we didn’t have the desperation that we needed to win the game.”
Johnson scored first for the Blue Jackets at 11:46 of the opening period when he launched a wrister from the right point into traffic that bounced off Crosby’s skate and into the net.
There was less luck involved when Anderson made it 2-0 with a little over minute left in the period. He grabbed a chip pass from Karlsson, circled in from the right and beat Fleury between the pads.
Columbus went up 3-0 at 4:49 of the second when Nutivaara scored off a rebound.
Just like in Game 3 when they rallied from a 3-1 deficit, the Penguins began roaring back.
Hornqvist struck for Pittsburgh during a power play 6:43 in the second. His rebound shot from the doorstep rolled up the pad of Bobrovsky with the goalie dropped in front of the net. Ten minutes later, Phil Kessel passed the puck out to Hainsey to the far right and he beat a shielded Bobrovsky from a severe angle. The Blue Jackets were lucky to get out of the last few minutes of the period without another score from the swarming Penguins.
The Blue Jackets got a goal from Karlsson 27 seconds into the third that seemed to pump them up again. But Kuhnhackl found the back of the net on a rebound less than two minutes later to make it 4-3 before Jenner put Columbus back up by two.
“We’re all excited here tonight,” Columbus winger Brandon Saad said. “But we’ve got a lot more work to do.”
NOTES: Tortorella scratched veteran winger Scott Hartnell on his 35th birthday, replacing him in the lineup with Lukas Sedlak, who returned from an injury. … F Matt Calvert also was back after serving a one-game suspension for breaking his stick over the back of Kuhnhackl on Friday. …. D Kyle Quincey made his playoff debut for Columbus after D Zach Werenski was knocked out with a puck to the face Sunday. D Scott Harrington was a scratch.
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