Evgeni Malkin’s hat trick was exactly what the Pittsburgh Penguins needed to defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 Monday night.

Brandon Sutter scored the other goal for Pittsburgh and Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves on the night including a fortunate stick save on Ryan Johansen.  

In every game in this series, the Pittsburgh Penguins seem to falter on the home stretch. Last night’s game was no different. Fedor Tyutin, Artem Anisimov and Nick Foligno all scored goals for Columbus with just ten minutes left in the final period. Dan Bylsma used his timeout after two goals were scored but it didn’t work.

I’m sure that the entire Pittsburgh Penguins team are very thankful that they didn’t have to play another period in the game. Because all the momentum was shifting towards the home side Blue Jackets late in the game.

Yes, Marc-Andre Fleury made a few key saves, but those last two goals were quite weak in my opinion. I still believe that Fleury still hasn’t found the consistency to win the big games in the playoffs. Luckily for him, the clock was on his side, and the strong offensive fire power Pittsburgh has bailed him out yet again.

It seems that the Penguins top line has finally woken up. Malkin, Crosby and Kunitz were all involved and accumulated points in the game. A few careless penalties by the Columbus Blue Jackets allowed the Pittsburgh Penguins to score and keep the lead the entire game.

I give full credit to the Columbus Blue Jackets for their effort in this series. They certainly gave the Pittsburgh Penguins all they could handle throughout this series. Sergei Bobrovsky played extremely well in goal all series long.

He made 24 saves in this game and exits the playoffs with a .908 save percentage overall. The Jacket’s leading scorers Ryan Johansen, Brandon Dubinsky and Jack Johnson combined for a total of 19 points throughout the series.

Nick Foligno, Boone Jenner and Artem Anisimov also had an extremely positive playoff experience as well tallying a combined total of 10 points as well. Unfortunately for the Columbus Blue Jackets they just ran out of time. But there is no doubt in my mind that this team will be in the playoffs again next year.

This team has an incredibly balanced roster filled with quite a few promising, young players. If they can add some more experienced players to their lineup in the off season, this team will be well on their way to progress further into the playoffs with each passing year.

For the Pittsburgh Penguins, they know that this was a fortunate win. I’m sure Dan Bylsma will be furious with his squad after the game. The only other positive for the Pittsburgh Penguins in this game is that Malkin and Crosby finally have some playoff points. The question will be can they finally get into their regular season rhythm and score goals consistently in the playoffs. I believe they can and will in the next round.

With the win, the Penguins will face the New York Rangers or the dreaded Philadelphia Flyers. I really hope it’s going to be the Flyers since Pittsburgh and Philadelphia really don’t like each other. It would be a very entertaining series. However, if it’s New York, the goaltending battle between Henrik Lundqvist and Marc-Andre Fleury would also be quite entertaining as well.

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