VegasInsider.com
VI Mobile Scores and Betting OddsVI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds Be Social
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto
Horses
Soccer
Boxing/MMA
More
Betting Tools

 
Pens clinch playoff spot with 2-1 win

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Chris Kunitz and Beau Bennett scored goals 47 seconds apart midway through the third period and Marc-Andre Fleury made 35 saves and the Pittsburgh Penguins clinched a playoff spot with a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night.

Advertisement
James Wisniewski scored a power-play goal for Columbus with 3:06 left, with Pittsburgh hanging on as Fleury made huge saves on Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson during a scrum in the final seconds.

Curtis McElhinney, taking the place of the ill Sergei Bobrovsky, stopped the first 28 Penguins shots before Kunitz notched his 34th with 9:25 left.

The Blue Jackets came into the game in a four-way tie for a wild-card spot in the East.

After a chippy game with lots of hard checks and few great scoring chances, the Penguins finally broke through.

Sidney Crosby carried the puck through the neutral zone and slid a pass to Kunitz whose wrister from the top of the left circle avoided the outstretched stick of Wisniewski to beat McElhinney.

Before that goal could be announced to a capacity crowd of 18,908, Bennett skated with the puck up the left wing on a 2-on-1 break. He tucked a hard wrist shot inside the far post for his second of the season.

Bennett had missed the past 50 games after wrist surgery.

Wisniewski's goal reignited the fans - including a large contingent backing the Penguins - who roared while standing for most of the final minutes. With less than 10 seconds left, first Dubinsky and then Atkinson had shots from point-blank range that Fleury turned aside.

The Penguins, fourth in the NHL on the penalty kill, snuffed out three power plays in the opening period. There were several mini-scrums, a fight (Blue Jacket Nick Foligno vs. Robert Bortuzzo), some big hits and a couple of near goals.

James Neal's shot from the point was tipped by Kunitz, the puck deflecting off McElhinney and coming to rest atop the goal where it was blown dead.

Pittsburgh had the only three power plays in the second period, which also was scoreless. The Penguins failed to get a shot on goal in the last two, which were bridged by 4 seconds of 5 on 3.

The best scoring chance of the first two periods took place early in the second. On a 2-on-1 rush, Lee Stempniak's shot from the doorstep was stopped by McElhinney's left leg pad. Kunitz collected the puck and fired a shot that clanged off the crossbar. Crosby was all alone in the crease, but the puck ricocheted away before he could jam it into an empty net.

Notes: The Columbus Dispatch reported on Friday that the Blue Jackets are 29th in the 30-team NHL in attendance, drawing 14,347 per game. Despite a 23 percent increase in season-ticket sales to 8,600, attendance has actually dropped from last season (14,564). ... After a sunny, warm day in Columbus, a weatherman appearing on the monitors during the second intermission was loudly booed for predicting snow on Saturday.

---

Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RustyMillerAP

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
HEADLINES
News: 2017-18 Season Win Totals
Bruins top Flyers on Agostino's OT goal
Kings top Canucks in 1st China game
Canadiens D Juulsen to miss 6 weeks
Team USA rules out including NHL prospects
Blues tab Robinson as senior consultant
NHL players are resorting to camp tryouts
Lupul apologizes for writing Leafs 'cheat'
Cole signs with Hurricanes, then retires
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NHL Pro Hockey Handicapper Sports Picks Records
VegasInsider.com Gold Membership
2016 NHL SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bill Marzano + 6094
Bruce Marshall + 5708
Stephen Nover + 1083
Underdog Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 2199
Bill Marzano + 1384
Stephen Nover + 1329
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Scott Rickenbach + 927
Bruce Marshall + 630
Doc's Sports + 127
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 3721
Scott Rickenbach + 3715
Bill Marzano + 2697
Favorite Leaders
Handicapper Money
Kevin Rogers + 720
Bill Marzano + 534
ASA + 95
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 2602
Bill Marzano + 492
Gary Bart + 314
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership