Blue streak: Jackets rout Penguins 7-1 to take Metro lead


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Scott Hartnell had his ninth career hat trick and the Columbus Blue Jackets scored four times in a head-spinning third-period flurry to blow out the Pittsburgh Penguins 7-1 on Thursday night.

Cam Atkinson, William Karlsson, Brandon Saad and Boone Jenner also scored to help the Blue Jackets win their 11th straight game and take over first place in the Metropolitan Division.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 25 shots for Columbus (22-5-4) amid a rollicking playoff atmosphere and a sell-out crowd at Nationwide Arena.

Sidney Crosby scored Pittsburgh’s only goal in a fast, testy game marked by several skirmishes and players being pulled apart. Matthew Murray had 21 saves for Pittsburgh (21-8-5), which failed to earn a point for the first time in 11 games. The loss matched the Penguins’ worst of the season.

Crosby got his NHL-leading 23rd goal 2:39 in when he batted the puck out of the air into the net after an Ian Cole shot bounced off Bobrovsky’s pads.

Atkinson evened it on a power play at 13:01 into the first, slamming it past Murray after a perfect setup pass from Nick Foligno at the goal line. It was Atkinson’s team-leading 15th goal and 34th point.

Gloves went flying in the second period when Jenner and Pittsburgh’s Steve Oleksy mixed it up with both landing some blows before it was broken up.

The Blue Jackets went up 2-1 at 9:45 into the second when Sam Gagner shoved the puck forward as he fell behind the net and Karlsson flipped into the top of the net. Play was stopped while officials reviewed the video and confirmed it was a no-doubt goal.

Less than 3 minutes later, Hartnell hustled after a loose puck and juked Murray with a backhand shot into the net to make it 3-1. Less than a minute after that, Hartnell was penalized for throwing a puck back at the Penguins’ Matt Cullen after it was flipped up into the air at him. During that sequence Oleksy was called for high-sticking Hartnell.

Then came the third-period flurry with Hartnell, Saad and Jenner all scoring within the space a single minute. Hartnell added his third goal less than 3 minutes later, and caps rained onto the ice.

NOTES: Atkinson was on the ice for Columbus despite a left foot injury he suffered blocking a puck in the Tuesday night shootout win over the Los Angeles Kings. Atkinson leads the NHL in power-play points (16) and has an eight-game point streak. … Columbus hasn’t lost a game in regulation since the day before Thanksgiving. … Oliver Bjorkstrand rejoined Columbus from Cleveland of the AHL on Wednesday but was a scratch Thursday along with Dalton Prout and Scott Harrington. … Chad Ruhwedel, Trevor Daley and Tom Kuhnhackl were scratches for Pittsburgh.


Pittsburgh: Hosts New Jersey on Friday night.

Columbus: Hosts Montreal on Friday night.


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