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Penguins rally for 2-1 lead over Jackets

Columbus, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Two-goal leads in this series aren't safe.

Not for the star-studded team stacked to the hilt with offensive weapons.

Not for the traditionally distressed franchise still chasing its first playoff win at home.

And back and forth they go.

Brandon Sutter, Lee Stempniak and Olli Maatta scored on three straight shots in a 2:13 span in the third period Monday and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

The Penguins overcame a 2-0 deficit in the first 3:18 of the game to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series heading into Game 4 on Wednesday in Columbus.

It was the third straight game in the series the team holding a two-goal lead lost.

"We just stayed with it," said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who had an assist but remains without a goal in the series. "We knew there was a lot of hockey left. I thought we out-played them, at least in the second and third period."

Columbus actually had a pair of two-goal leads -- after Boone Jenner and Jack Johnson beat Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury in the opening minutes to make it 2-0 and again when Cam Atkinson scored 64 seconds into the third period for a 3-1 lead.

A Pittsburgh barrage followed: Sutter deflected Paul Martin's shot from the high right side, Stempniak scored on a deft pass from Chris Kunitz behind a trailing defenseman, and Maatta got the eventual game-winner on a shot that was re-directed in front of Sergei Bobrovsky.

"We got caught playing their game, a little bit of the run-and-gun," said Columbus forward Nick Foligno. "Their transition is so quick and that's what kind of caught us a couple of times. It was just a lucky bounce with that fourth one, but that's playoff hockey."

Fleury allowed two goals on the first three shots he faced but stopped 16 of the last 17. Brooks Orpik had the other Pittsburgh goal, scoring in the last two seconds of the second period with a neat adjustment and a dragged forehand.

Bobrovsky had stopped all 25 Penguins shots until that point but was peppered even more in the third period and finished with 37 saves.

The Blue Jackets fell to 0-3 in playoff games at Nationwide Arena. They were playing on the five-year anniversary of their first home playoff game, a 4-1 loss to Detroit in Game 3 of the 2009 Western Conference quarterfinals.

The Red Wings also won Game 4 that year at Nationwide Arena to sweep the Blue Jackets.

Things looked good early on after Fleury left a rebound out in front off Jack Skille's wrister from the right side and Jenner was right there to score just 98 seconds into the game.

Moments later, Johnson found a loose puck in front after Brandon Dubinsky's sharp-angle try was knocked around and flicked it past Fleury, forcing the Penguins to call a timeout.

Columbus had never scored even one goal that early in its six previous playoff games, but the lead wouldn't last.

Indeed, the teams seem to be following a script.

Columbus built a 3-1 lead in Game 1 last Wednesday but the Penguins scored three in a row to win 4-3. On Saturday, Pittsburgh had a 2-0 lead in Game 2 but the Blue Jackets won 4-3 on Matt Calvert's goal 1:10 into the second overtime, the first playoff win in franchise history.

"I don't think Game 4 can come fast enough," said Johnson.

Game Notes

Prior to Jenner's goal, Kristian Huselius held the Blue Jackets record for quickest goal in a playoff game. He scored 6:12 into Game 4 against Detroit in 2009 (Calvert's goal in Game 2 is the fastest to start a period in Columbus' seven playoff games).

04/21 22:54:42 ET

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