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Penguins 2, Blue Jackets 1

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Left winger Chris Kunitz and right winger Beau Bennett scored 47 seconds apart in the third period Friday night, leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Nationwide Arena.

The two Metropolitan Division foes played before a sold-out, bi-partisan crowd of 18,908, the largest draw in Nationwide this season.

As usual, the Penguins skated away the winners. They swept the season series against the Blue Jackets, outscoring them 16-7 in the process.

Defenseman James Wisniewski scored the only goal for the Blue Jackets.

Last night's game was hardly a mismatch, though.

Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury had 35 saves and improved to 6-1-1 all-time against the Blue Jackets. He came within 3:05 of his sixth shutout of the season.

For 50 minutes, it was quite the goaltending duel, but Blue Jackets goaltender Curtis McElhinney -- making a rare start in place of a sick Sergei Bobrovsky -- was the first to crack.

McElhinney had 29 saves, but allowed goals on two straight shots in the third.

At 10:35 of the third, Kunitz gathered a pass from Penguins center Sidney Crosby in the high slot and fired a wrister just in front of Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski.

The puck appeared to befuddle McElhinney, who allowed it to score under his right arm.

It was 2-0 before Kunitz's goal was announced to the crowd.

Bennett found space through the right circle and lasered a slap shot that beat McElhinney's glove.

The Blue Jackets, who entered play as the seventh-place club in the Eastern Conference, would likely face the Penguins in the first round if they hold onto that spot.

An 0-5 record against the Penguins doesn't create much hope, but only one of the five meetings was lopsided.

The Blue Jackets saved face with 3:05 to play last night when Wisniewski blistered a shot from the right point and beat Fleury through a crowd.

The Jackets had several chances in the final minute with McElhinney pulled, but Dubinsky whiffed on a point-blank shot in the closing seconds.

NOTES: Blue Jackets G Sergei Bobrovsky remained sidelined with the flu. G Mike McKenna was recalled from minor-league Springfield to serve as Curtis McElhinney's backup. Bobrovsky had made 19 consecutive starts but was pulled after the first period of Tuesday night's win over Detroit. ... The Penguins lost fourth-line C Marcel Goc for at least three weeks after ankle surgery on Friday. Goc was injured in Thursday's loss to the Los Angeles Kings. ... Penguins rookie D Olli Maatta was a healthy scratch. ... Blue Jackets rookie D Ryan Murray, out since March 4 after knee surgery, joined the club for practice and could play if the Jackets make the playoffs.
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