PITTSBURGH (AP) — Penguins coach Mike Sullivan called it the biggest character win of the season for his struggling team.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin scored in the shootout, and Pittsburgh rallied past the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4 on Wednesday night.
“With all the challenges we faced, and being down a couple goals a couple times, it didn’t deflate us,” Sullivan said. “We remained determined, and I think that has to be part of the fabric of this team moving forward.”
Crosby and Malkin both beat Sergei Bobrovsky between the legs in the shootout. Matt Murray stopped Pierre-Luc Dubois and then Artemi Panarin to clinch the win.
Crosby thought he had scored the game-winner 23 seconds into overtime, but the goal was overturned because of goaltender interference by Brian Dumoulin.
“I thought it was going to count, but it didn’t happen,” Crosby said. “There’s nothing you can do about it now. I’m glad we got the two points.”
Four of the last five regular-season meetings between the Penguins and Blue Jackets have gone to overtime. Pittsburgh needed a big third-period rally in this one.
Malkin and Phil Kessel both scored third-period power-play goals for Pittsburgh, while Jake Guentzel netted the equalizer with 1:40 left in regulation. Conor Sheary also scored his 10th for the Penguins, who rallied from three two-goal deficits, including two in the third period. Murray made 29 saves in regulation.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins, who are near the bottom of the Metropolitan Division standings, had just three wins in their last nine games before Wednesday.
“I thought it was the most resilient this group has been all year long,” Sullivan said. “We were down two goals a couple times in the game, but we just stayed with it.”
Panarin, playing in his 200th NHL game, scored his ninth and 10th goals of the season for the Blue Jackets. He has eight goals and 21 points in his last 21 games. Sonny Milano scored his sixth and Boone Jenner added his fourth for the Blue Jackets, who lost for the fifth time in eight games. Bobrovsky stopped 32 shots in regulation.
“In the third, I think we have to stay on our toes a little bit,” Jenner said. “They get a couple power-play (goals) and the (goal) late, but we have to do a better job of bearing down.”
Kessel cut the Penguins’ deficit to one with a power-play goal early in the third period, but Panarin, for the second time in the game, restored the Blue Jackets’ two-goal lead later in the period.
Malkin scored a power-play goal with 5:36 remaining before Guentzel tied it with 1:40 to play. Patric Hornqvist’s wrap-around attempt came to Guentzel in front, and he finished from the top of the crease.
The Penguins beat Columbus six days ago in a shootout but were shut out by Anaheim at home two nights later. Pittsburgh had gone 75 games, including playoffs, without being shut out before Saturday’s loss.
The drought carried into the start of Wednesday’s game as Columbus held a two-goal lead through one period on goals by Milano and Jenner.
Panarin made it 3-1 late in the second period when he beat Murray with a glove-side wrist shot off the rush.
But Pittsburgh rallied in the third period with three of the next four goals before Malkin and Crosby ended it.
“This team is capable of coming from behind regardless of how many goals we’re behind,” Sullivan said. “We have the firepower to do it, and there’s plenty of evidence that suggests we’re capable of that. It’s a matter of making sure we stay in the moment and we stay determined, and I thought as a group, we did that.”
NOTES: Cam Atkinson and Alex Wennberg missed the game for Columbus. Atkinson (foot) and Wennberg (back) are both out four-to-six weeks. Also injured are C Brandon Dubinsky (fractured orbital bone), D Ryan Murray (upper body) and D Zach Werenski. Werenski took part in the morning skate on Wednesday, but missed his fourth straight game. … Kris Letang, who scored the winning goal in Thursday’s shootout win against Columbus, missed for Pittsburgh with a lower-body injury. … Penguins D Justin Schultz (lower body) was on the ice before the morning skate, but missed his ninth game. … Columbus D Seth Jones extended his point streak to five games. … Columbus has scored first in 16 of its past 25 games.
Blue Jackets: Visit Ottawa on Friday.
Penguins: Open a three-game trip at Carolina on Friday.