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Penguins rally to escape with a victory in Game 1 against Columbus

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Brandon Sutter celebrates his winning goal against the Blue Jackets during first-round Stanley Cup playoff action Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Brandon Sutter celebrates his winning goal against the Blue Jackets during first-round Stanley Cup playoff action Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Fans wave their gold towels after the Penguins scored during the first period of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game against Columbus on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Fans wave their gold towels after the Penguins scored during the first period of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game against Columbus on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky can't stop a shot by the Penguins' Brandon Sutter during the third period of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky can't stop a shot by the Penguins' Brandon Sutter during the third period of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky can't stop a shot by the Penguins' Brandon Sutter during the third period of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky can't stop a shot by the Penguins' Brandon Sutter during the third period of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Jussi Jokinen celebrates his goal during the first period of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff game against Columbus on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Jussi Jokinen celebrates his goal during the first period of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff game against Columbus on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson scores past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury during the first period of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson scores past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury during the first period of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - The Penguins take the ice in front of a gold-out crowd at the start of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game against Columbus on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins take the ice in front of a gold-out crowd at the start of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game against Columbus on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Blue Jackets' Ryan Johansen checks the Penguins' James Neal in the first period during of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff seies Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Blue Jackets' Ryan Johansen checks the Penguins' James Neal in the first period during of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff seies Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury makes a second-period save on the Blue Jackets' Matt Calvert during first-round Stanley Cup playoff action Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury makes a second-period save on the Blue Jackets' Matt Calvert during first-round Stanley Cup playoff action Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky makes a stick save on the Penguins' Chris Kunitz during the second period of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky makes a stick save on the Penguins' Chris Kunitz during the second period of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky can't stop a shot by the Penguins' Jussi Jokinen during the first period of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky can't stop a shot by the Penguins' Jussi Jokinen during the first period of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Brandon Sutter is hauled down by the Blue Jackets' Fedor Tyutin in front of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky on a breakaway during the second period of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Brandon Sutter is hauled down by the Blue Jackets' Fedor Tyutin in front of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky on a breakaway during the second period of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury makes a glove save in front of the Blue Jackets' Ryan Johansen during the second period of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury makes a glove save in front of the Blue Jackets' Ryan Johansen during the second period of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Brandon Sutter collides with Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky after being taken down on a breakaway during the second period of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Brandon Sutter collides with Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky after being taken down on a breakaway during the second period of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Jussi Jokinen celebrates his first-period goal with Olli Maatta and James Neal during their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game against Columbus on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Jussi Jokinen celebrates his first-period goal with Olli Maatta and James Neal during their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game against Columbus on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Blue Jackets' Mark Letestu celebrates his first-period goal with Jack Johnson during their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game against the Penguins on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Blue Jackets' Mark Letestu celebrates his first-period goal with Jack Johnson during their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game against the Penguins on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stops a shot by the Blue Jackets' Brandon Dubinsky during the first period of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stops a shot by the Blue Jackets' Brandon Dubinsky during the first period of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury gives up a power-play goal to the Blue Jackets' Mark Letestu during the first period of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury gives up a power-play goal to the Blue Jackets' Mark Letestu during the first period of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury makes a second-period save on the Blue Jackets' Corey Tropp during first-round Stanley Cup playoff action Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury makes a second-period save on the Blue Jackets' Corey Tropp during first-round Stanley Cup playoff action Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson celebrates his goal with Brandon Dubinsky during the first period of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game against the Penguins on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson celebrates his goal with Brandon Dubinsky during the first period of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game against the Penguins on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stops a shot with his mask in the final minute against Columbus during the third period of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stops a shot with his mask in the final minute against Columbus during the third period of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Blue Jackets' Jack Johnson gets a first-period shot past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury during a first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Blue Jackets' Jack Johnson gets a first-period shot past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury during a first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Chris Kuntiz watches Matt Niskanen's second-period shot beat Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovski during first-round Stanley Cup playoff action Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Chris Kuntiz watches Matt Niskanen's second-period shot beat Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovski during first-round Stanley Cup playoff action Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Beau Bennett celebrates his second-period goal against the Blue Jackets during first-round Stanley Cup playoff action Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Beau Bennett celebrates his second-period goal against the Blue Jackets during first-round Stanley Cup playoff action Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin shoots on Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky during the third period of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin shoots on Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky during the third period of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Dominic Loper (left) of Banksville and Zach Neal of Brookline get loud with the crowd in the Fan Zone before the Penguins' first-round Stanley Cup playoff game against Columbus on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, outside Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Dominic Loper (left) of Banksville and Zach Neal of Brookline get loud with the crowd in the Fan Zone before the Penguins' first-round Stanley Cup playoff game against Columbus on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, outside Consol Energy Center.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 10:27 p.m.
 

Evgeni Malkin dumped a puck early. A third-liner scored the go-ahead goal late. The Penguins held onto a lead.

This was not a perfect opening to the Stanley Cup playoffs, but it provided a look at how things are different with these Penguins.

Start, as veteran winger Craig Adams did, with the lead that was protected after center Brandon Sutter scored what proved to be the final goal with about 12 minutes remaining in regulation of a 4-3 victory over Columbus at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday night.

The Blue Jackets registered only five shots after Sutter's marker.

“That's what we've been working on the last few years,” Adams said. “We don't always do it, but we've gotten better at it.

“Actually, I thought right from the first period we had the right guys making the right play with the puck: (Malkin) dumping the puck in, (James Neal) dumping the puck, stuff like that.

“We made a couple of mistakes and got burned, but we stayed patient, and as the game went on you could see it working.”

The Penguins lead the best-of-seven series 1-0. Game 2 is Saturday night at Consol Energy Center.

Since winning the Cup in 2009, the Penguins have taken the first two home games from a series only once in seven attempts. They did it in seven of eight series during their 2008 and '09 Final runs.

The Blue Jackets, in only their fifth playoff game, nearly stole home-ice advantage. They raced to a 3-1 lead — scoring at even strength (defenseman Jack Johnson), on the power play (center Mark Letestu) and short-handed (center Derek MacKenzie) — before a couple of quick-strike goals by the Penguins early in the second period.

Winger Beau Bennett and defenseman Matt Niskanen scored within 45 seconds of one another after Bennett needed only 51 seconds to answer MacKenzie's goal.

The Penguins finished only plus-1 on special teams because they surrendered a power-play and short-handed goal, but they again used the man-advantage to get over on the Blue Jackets. In five regular-season meetings, all victories, the Penguins relied on the power play for five of 16 goals.

Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski said their plan was to play aggressive and force the Penguins to take penalties — and that happened.

Coach Dan Bylsma was particularly displeased with defenseman Kris Letang's second-period slashing penalty after the Penguins rallied to pull even. Bylsma also was not satisfied with players who were tasked with high-forward responsibilities in the offensive zone.

“It cost us a couple of odd-man rushes in the first period and even later into the second,” Bylsma said.

He also credited the Blue Jackets' penchant for “putting in a lot of pucks” to disrupt the Penguins' breakout.

The Blue Jackets finished with 48 hits. Letestu described the Blue Jackets' physicality as “an investment.”

“We're prepared to go seven games or whatever it takes,” Letestu said. “We still have to pound them physically, hopefully wear them down and reap the rewards later on.”

The Penguins, captain Sidney Crosby said, have prepared themselves to play simpler hockey in the postseason than they have, specifically in the past two opening-round struggles against Philadelphia and the New York Islanders.

Game 1 against Columbus was a start, although at the start of it goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was forced to make too many high-quality saves for any of his teammates' liking.

Again, this was not a perfect playoff opener for the Penguins, but they — like Fleury — finished strong and won, which is all that matters in the postseason.

“Very big,” Crosby said of Fleury's 31 saves, including 22 over the first two periods. “We made some big mistakes. He had to bail us out a few times. We have to limit those. But you don't win the playoffs without goaltending like that.”

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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