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Fleury makes late start, Penguins rush by Blue Jackets 3-1

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20170412pdPenguinsSports13 Penguins winger Phil Kessel left congratulates linemate Bryan Rust on his goal against Columbus Wednesday night. Kessel's pass set up the score

Two nights after spending the final 14 minutes of Game 1 on the bench, Columbus winger and Gibsonia native Brandon Saad responded to coach John Sullivan's challenges to raise his game and gave Pittsburgh a reason to experience mixed feelings. The Penguins and Blue Jackets will drop the puck for Game 3 at 6 p.m.

The Penguins are up 2-0 in this series, outscoring the Blue Jackets 7-2, but the Blue Jackets have outplayed the Penguins for stretches. Crosby turned Pittsburgh's first shot of the game into the 50th playoff goal of his career, though he had the easy part: settling the puck at the doorstep then flipping it into a wide-open net.

PITTSBURGH - Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 31 shots in a surprise start in place of injured Matt Murray and the Pittsburgh Penguins opened their Stanley Cup title defence with a 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.

There has been some speculation that Murray was dealing with some sort of injury from a game last week, that perhaps the Penguins were prepared for the possibility they might have to switch to Fleury even before Murray tweaked something during the warmup. Despite the wound, the man refused to go to the hospital, instead opting to watch the Penguins take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Stanley Cup playoffs. So, his team had a two-goal lead, and he still wouldn't leave. Murray has been labelled as day-to-day but will not dress in Game 2. Dubnyk made 20 saves.

The Blue Jackets, making just their third playoff appearance in franchise history, insisted they wouldn't be overcome by the stakes or the stage.

Edmonton centre Connor McDavid, the NHL's leading scorer in the regular season, had one assist in his playoff debut to extend his points streak to 15 games.

Columbus outshot and outhit (51-30) Pittsburgh, to no avail. Fleury was brilliant in the Penguins 3-1 win. Quickly, Kessel slipped a pass to fellow right winger Bryan Rust into the slot between the faceoff circles, and the second-year forward rifled a wrist shot past Bobrovsky on the stick side. Crosby now has 50 playoff goals in his career, the 57th player in National Hockey League history to reach that milestone.

The teams, a few hours' drive apart, have developed a rivalry the past handful of seasons and, as fellow members of the Metropolitan Division, have faced each other plenty. Because, if we're being honest, had Murray gone down with Jarry as the sole netminder available to spell the Penguins young No. 1, Pittsburgh's title defense might not have ended up being much of a defense at all.

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