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Blue Jackets rookie returns to game after gnarly cut to face

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20170414pdPenguinsSports08 Sidney Crosby dives for a loose puck against the Blue Jackets in the third period Friday at PPG Paints Arena Pittsburgh. Crosby scored a goal and picked up an assist in the Penguins' 4-1 victory

Unless you were sitting with your face pressed against the TV, you probably missed how the Penguins finished off the Columbus Blue Jackets to take a 3-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series. For instance, even though they should have spent the third period trying to protect a two-goal lead, Columbus was more than happy to trade chances with Mike Sullivan's squad.

The 22-year-old rookie capped his hat trick by slipping it past Sergei Bobrovsky at 13:10 of the extra period for a 5-4 win and a 3-0 advantage for Pittsburgh in the playoff series. In the two games in Pittsburgh, the Penguins outscored the Blue Jackets by a combined 7-1.

Columbus Blue Jackets' Boone Jenner, right, checks Pittsburgh Penguins' Matt Cullen during the second period of Game 4 of an NHL first-round hockey playoff series Tuesday, April 18, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio.

The Penguins made it 5-4 with a short-handed goal from Jake Guentzel at 19:33, his fifth of the series, but they would not get any closer. The goal was the third in 23 playoff games for Parayko, who scored four goals in 81 games this season.

Columbus held a 14-11 edge in shots on goal in the first, bringing their total through three games in that category to 42-21.

I'm never a fan of looking past opponents, but you just get a feeling this one is as good as over - and if the Pens are able to wrap it up in the next game or two, what a spot they would be in.

The three goals put Guentzel's playoff point total at five, giving him a tie with linemate Sidney Crosby for second-most so far this postseason.

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Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, coming off a playoff career-high 54 saves in Game 2, stopped 26 shots in this one.

The Penguins now lead 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, which returns to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Thursday night.

Pine's Brandon Saad took the shot from above the right circle, and Markus Nutivaara swept it under Fleury for a 3-0 lead at 4:48 of the second period.

Crosby played keep-away with three Blue Jackets players behind the net before passing the puck to a perfectly positioned Guentzel in front during overtime on Sunday night. It just seems like, despite knowing better, Columbus can't resist the urge to hulk up and play tough-guy hockey.

We know that as long as Guenztel is on a line with Crosby, his opportunities to score are always going to be there. They didn't and Pittsburgh has a stranglehold on the series.

It's been nearly two months since the trade deadline, when we didn't know if Fleury would even be a Penguin this postseason.

And it is that kind of effort the Blue Jackets want for a full 60 minutes tonight. His status for Tuesday's game is unknown.

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