Penguins clip Jackets, 4-3

WILL GRAVES AP Sports Writer Published:

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Columbus coach Todd Richards insists his upstart team isn't in the playoffs "just to go to school."

Maybe, but the Pittsburgh Penguins provided a pretty valuable lesson in perseverance during a 4-3 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Wednesday night.

Down two after 21 minutes of slow and sometimes sloppy hockey, the Metropolitan Division champions responded by scoring the final three goals, including Brandon Sutter's go-ahead wrist shot 8:18 into the third period.

"I think we expected a tight game," Sutter said after the third playoff goal of his career. "They got up and we stuck with it. It was a good win."

One that came with more than a few tense moments. Beau Bennett and Matt Niskanen scored power-play goals 45 seconds apart in the second period, erasing Pittsburgh's two-goal deficit. Jussi Jokinen also scored for the Penguins and Marc-Andre Fleury overcame some shaky defense in front of him to stop 31 shots.

Game 2 is Saturday night.

"We have to learn from it but we found a way to win," Pittsburgh forward Sidney Crosby said. "Obviously we didn't start the way we wanted, getting down two goals. I think we have to clean up some things."

If the NHL's youngest team was scared by the stage, it hardly showed.

Johnson gave the Blue Jackets their first-ever postseason lead 6:20 into the game. He charged to the front of the net, got a feed from Brandon Dubinsky and beat Fleury with a beautiful deke from forehand to backhand.

The Penguins answered with 2:51 left in the first when Evgeni Malkin -- returning after missing three weeks with a foot injury -- took advantage of a turnover by Fedor Tyutin and hit Jokinen in the slot. The knuckling wrist shot sailed over Bobrovsky's right shoulder and Pittsburgh exhaled.

But only briefly.

With Pittsburgh defenseman Rob Scuderi off for interference, the Blue Jackets went back in front 2-1 when Letestu jammed home a rebound and sent Columbus soaring into the dressing room.

"People were wondering how we would start the game with our inexperience, but we were pretty comfortable after the first period with a 2-1 lead and maybe let off the gas," Columbus center Ryan Johansen said.

Mackenzie got loose for a breakaway short-handed goal, pushing the advantage to 3-1 just 43 seconds into the second. But Columbus' momentum then vanished against the league's top power play.

Bennett tipped in a Niskanen slap shot 51 seconds after Mackenzie scored. Johnson was quickly whistled for interference and Niskanen needed only 10 seconds to even the game with a snap shot from the left circle.

Things settled down after the five goals in 5 minutes flurry, though Columbus didn't exactly fold. The Blue Jackets carried play at times in the first two periods.

The Penguins righted themselves in the third. The miscues that plagued them for the first 40 minutes disappeared, replaced by the kind of responsible play they know they'll need to make a serious run at the franchise's fourth Stanley Cup.

"Nobody panicked," Fleury said. "The power play was huge for us like it has been all season. It got us back in the game and from then we were in good shape."

DUCKS 4, STARS 3

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and an assist, Frederik Andersen made 32 saves to win his NHL playoff debut, and the Anaheim Ducks opened the postseason with a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night.

Getzlaf, Kyle Palmieri and Mathieu Perreault scored in a dominant first period for the top-seeded Ducks, who began their playoff run on a dead sprint. Anaheim led 4-0 midway through the second period before Dallas got rolling in its first playoff game since 2008.

Captain Jamie Benn and Colton Sceviour had power-play goals, and Tyler Seguin scored with 6:07 left to trim the Ducks' lead to one. Anaheim hung on with a handful of big saves from Andersen, a 24-year-old Danish rookie.

Game 2 is Friday.

Matt Beleskey had a goal and an assist before incurring a lower-body injury in the third period, leaving a hole on the Ducks' top line with Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Getzlaf then got hit in the face with the puck with 16 seconds left, sending him to the dressing room early.

CANADIENS 5, LIGHTNING 4, OT

TAMPA, Fla. -- Dale Weise scored 18:08 into overtime to give the Canadiens the win at Tampa Bay in the opener of their first-round playoff series.

Daniel Briere passed from behind the net to Weise in the right circle, and he beat Anders Lindback for the winning score. Lindback stopped 39 of 44 shots while filling in for injured goaltender Ben Bishop.

Carey Price stopped 21 shots for the Canadiens, who blew a pair of third-period leads. Brian Gionta had a short-handed goal and Tomas Plekanec, Lars Eller and Thomas Vanek also scored for Montreal.

Steven Stamkos scored twice for Tampa Bay, including the goal that forced overtime.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Friday night.

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