COLUMBUS, Ohio —Evgeni Malkin had a hat trick and the Pittsburgh Penguins almost blew a four-goal lead before beating the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 on Monday night to clinch their first-round playoff series in six games.
The Blue Jackets, closer to making tee times than thinking about a Game 7, scored three times in a 4:52 span in the third period to turn up the pressure on the Penguins.
Pittsburgh awaits the winner of the New York-Philadelphia series, with the Rangers leading 3-2 going into Tuesday night’s Game 6.
Brandon Sutter also scored and Matt Niskanen had two assists as the Penguins became the first team in the series to score first and win – but barely. Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves.
AVALANCHE: Center Matt Duchene returned to the lineup for Game 6 on Monday night.
Coach Patrick Roy said earlier in the day that Duchene would have to be cleared by the team’s medical staff after taking part in warmups in order to play.
Duchene was headed for the fourth line, so the Avalanche could ease him back in. The 23-year-old, who was the third overall pick in the 2009 draft, missed a month due to an injured medial collateral ligament in his left knee. Duchene led the team with 70 points in 71 games during the regular season.
FLAMES: Brad Treliving helped Don Maloney guide the Phoenix Coyotes through a difficult four-year span without an owner.
The Calgary Flames are hoping he can get them past a playoff-less streak that stretched to five years this season.
Calgary hired Treliving as its next general manager on Monday, finally filling the spot left by the firing of Jay Feaster in early December.
“I think this is a great opportunity, specifically for me but for any young general manager coming into this job,” Treliving said. “I had a great opportunity with Don Maloney. I was involved in everything. I was as close to that captain’s chair as you can probably be being a No. 2 guy, but I’m not naive enough to know that there is a difference.”