National Hockey League roundup: Jackets beat Pens to stay alive

The Columbus Blue Jackets staved off elimination in the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs on Tuesday with a 5-4 victory over the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

That will be a lot easier, the Penguins figure, if they have a better first period than they have had in each of the first four games.

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.

After the first three games, the Columbus players shed their gear in a room that was almost silent. The Blues have a 3-1 lead heading into Game 5 on Saturday in Minnesota.

The Rangers, who gave up the tying goal with 18 seconds left in the third period of Game 2 before losing in overtime, started aggressively and stopped Montreal in the final minutes in this one.

Pittsburgh advances to play the victor of the Capitals-Maple Leafs series, which is tied 2-2 heading into Game 5 on Friday in Washington. But the ways in which Chicago and Columbus were dispatched, the Blackhawks by way of a sweep (yes, a sweep) by the Nashville Predators and the Blue Jackets via a 4-1 series that saw the Pittsburgh Penguins outscore Columbus 21-13, were no doubt headlining.

While coach Mike Sullivan stressed his team's best hockey "is head of us" the one area he and the team he leads isn't anxious about is in net.

"Get that thing off of me", he said, but with way more mirth than annoyance. It's not a wait-and-see approach.

"We've got to be ready to dictate the terms from the very first puck drop". "I thought we did a good job of weathering that and then getting our momentum and getting our legs".

Pittsburgh practiced Wednesday without winger Phil Kessel and defenseman Trevor Daley. "Everybody at this time of year is dealing with bumps and bruises". The Pens are looking as risky as ever and have so much depth in the offensive zone and it seems like someone else is stepping up with each passing game and if they can continue that production from guys out of their bottom six forwards they are going to be very tough to slow down across a seven game series.

The Blue Jackets figure their Game 4 win was a step toward that and nothing more. On every line, from Brandon Dubinsky to Boone Jenner to Josh Anderson, there was a hulking forward capable of stapling opponents to the boards.

It's only the second time in the Pacers' NBA history they have lost the first three games in a best-of-seven series. "They're a good team", Bobrovsky said.

The Rangers controlled the play for most of the second period as the Canadiens had only one shot on goal in the first 11 minutes.

NEXT GAME: The Penguins are awaiting the victor of the Washington-Toronto series, which is tied 2-2 heading into Game 5 Friday night.

However, the Penguins are the team coming off of a loss. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby cashed in on the power play at 5:31.

  • Julie Sanders