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Malkin's hat trick finishes off Blue Jackets

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Apr 28 2014 08:27:27 PM MDT
Updated On: Apr 28 2014 08:46:09 PM MDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -

Center Evgeni Malkin recorded his second career playoff hat trick, and the Pittsburgh Penguins held on for a 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday in Nationwide Arena, clinching the first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.

The Penguins, who advanced in six games, next will meet the winner of the ongoing series between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers. The Rangers lead the Flyers three games to two.

Pittsburgh scored twice in each of the first two periods to build a 4-0 lead, then survived Columbus' three-goal, third-period surge.

Malkin went scoreless in nine consecutive playoffs games -- dating back to a four-game sweep by the Boston Bruins last spring -- before busting out Monday.

He posted the 13th playoff hat trick in Penguins history. Only Mario Lemieux, now the Penguins' owner, has more postseason hat tricks than Malkin. Lemieux recorded three in his Hall of Fame career.

Center Brandon Sutter also scored for the Penguins, while goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury had finished with 24 saves.

The Blue Jackets seemed overwhelmed in the first two periods, but they responded -- out of nowhere -- with a mighty finish.

Defenseman Fedor Tyutin, center Artem Anisimov and left winger Nick Foligno scored in a five-minute span late in the third period, pulling the Blue Jackets within 4-3 with 4:47 remaining.

Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made 24 saves but was under constant duress in the early part of the game before the Penguins eased off.

Malkin scored at 9:11 of the first period, taking a pass from left wing Chris Kunitz and putting in a shot from the doorstep.

He made it 2-0 at 13:13 of the first when he scored on a wrister from the slot on the power play.

The Penguins pushed the lead to 4-0 in the second period thanks to two breakaways.

Sutter made it 3-0 only 34 seconds into the second. He jumped on a turnover by Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski and beat Bobrovsky with a backhand flip over the goalie's right pad.

Malkin cashed in again at 15:22 of the third, when he and left winger Jussi Jokinen got behind the Blue Jackets' defense for an easy look. Malkin snapped a wrister through Bobrovsky's glove to make it 4-0.

The Blue Jackets didn't get going until the third.

Tyutin fired from the right circle, a shot that appeared to be screened from the view of Fleury, to make it 4-1 with 9:39 to play.

Anisimov made it 4-2 with 6:06 to play, a wrister from the right circle, and Foligno sliced the margin to one with 4:47 remaining when he redirected a wrister by Tyutin.

The win sends Pittsburgh into the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the fifth time in seven seasons. The Penguins were swept by Boston in Eastern Conference finals last season.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets head into the offseason after only their second playoff berth in franchise history.

The Blue Jackets set a franchise record with 43 wins and 93 points during the regular season, and they also earned the first playoff win and first home playoff win in franchise history.

NOTES: Penguins D Brooks Orpik missed his second consecutive game with a lower-body injury. Coach Dan Bylsma would not elaborate on Orpik's status moving forward. ... Blue Jackets RW R.J. Umberger missed the game with a shoulder injury, suffered near the end of Game 5 in Pittsburgh. Umberger has suffered several upper body injuries since the end of the regular season, and he missed Game 1. ... Blue Jackets RW Jared Boll played for the first time since Game 1. ... The team scoring first lost every game in the series before Monday.