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Sunday’s NHL playoffs: Pens push Jackets to the brink

Associated Press

Columbus, Ohio — Jake Guentzel had a hat trick, including a goal at 13:10 of overtime, to lift the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-4 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday night and give them a 3-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.

Bryan Rust added two goals for Pittsburgh, and Marc-Andre Fleury overcame a shaky first period to make 33 saves. Guentzel is the first Pittsburgh to rookie to get a playoff hat trick.

The defending champion Penguins will go for the sweep in Columbus on Tuesday night.

Cam Atkinson had two goals for Columbus, and Zach Werenski (Michigan) and Brandon Dubinsky also scored. Sergei Bobrovsky had 42 saves.

After only scoring two goals combined in the first two games of the series, Columbus scored three goals in just over six minutes of the first period.

But the Penguins regained their composure and pushed back hard during the second period to tie the score at 3-3.

At 5:21, Rust got his second goal of the series when he tipped Brian Dumoulin’s shot through Bobrovsky’s pads. Then, with Werenski flat on the ice bleeding profusely from a puck to the face, Rust got another one when he redirected a shot from Evgeni Malkin to tie the score at 13:25. Werenski returned in the third period with a full facemask and a significant cut and bruise under his right eye — he tweeted a photo of his face after the game that showed his eye nearly swollen shut.

The teams traded goals in the third period before Guentzel beat Bobrovsky for the winner.

With Dubinsky in the box for cross-checking, Guentzel got his second goal of the game 11:48 into the third period to give the Penguins the 4-3 lead.

Dubinsky made amends, though, jumping on a rebound and banging it past Fleury at 15:11 to tie the score and force OT.

Eleven seconds into the game, Dubinsky put a shot on Fleury’s pads and Atkinson was in the right place to score on the rebound, pumping up a sold-out Nationwide Arena crowd hungry for some playoff prosperity.

Pittsburgh answered three minutes later. Guentzel played the ricochet off the back boards to the left of the net and beat Bobrovsky from a severe angle.

Atkinson got his second goal at 5:02 of the first when he picked Sidney Crosby’s pocket at the right circle and beat Fleury with a backhand. Sixty-eight seconds later during a power play, Werenski’s wrister from the top of the left circle clanged off the bar and into the top of the net to put Columbus up 3-1.

More Eastern Conference

Montreal 3, N.Y. Rangers 1: Alexander Radulov had a goal and an assist to lead Montreal over New York, giving the Canadiens a 2-1 lead in the first-round playoff series.

Artturi Lehkonen and Shea Weber scored power-play goals for Montreal and Carey Price stopped 20 shots.

Radulov, who got the overtime winner in Game 2 on Friday night after Tomas Plekanec tied it with 18 seconds left in regulation, has two goals and three assists in the past two games.

Brady Skjei spoiled Price’s shutout bid with 2:56 remaining for his first career playoff goal.

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, coming off a playoff career-high 54 saves in Game 2, stopped 26 shots in this one.

Game 4 is Tuesday night.

Western Conference

(At) St. Louis 3, Minnesota 1: Jaden Schwartz scored the go-ahead goal in the second period and Jake Allen made 40 saves to lead St. Louis over Minnesota for a 3-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.

Colton Parayko also scored for the Blues and Alexander Steen added an empty-netter for St. Louis, which will try to sweep the series Wednesday night in St. Louis.

Charlie Coyle scored for Minnesota, which got 28 saves from Devan Dubnyk.

Schwartz had a power-play goal at 15:19 of the second period to put the Blues one win away from the second round. He scored with 2:27 left in the third period of Game 2 to give St. Louis the 2-1 win.