Cold Penguins: Foligno's hat trick lifts Jackets to 5-3 win for franchise-record 9th in a row



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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Sidney Crosby is concerned that the Pittsburgh Penguins aren't playing with enough desperation.

They'd better in the final week of the season if they want to make the playoffs.

Nick Foligno scored three goals for the first time in his 541st NHL game and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Penguins 5-3 on Saturday to set a franchise record with their ninth consecutive win.

The Penguins, viewed as one of the league's elite teams, are desperate for wins coming down the stretch.

"We need points," Crosby said. "It's not a surprise. It's pretty clear."

Although still likely to make the postseason, the loss certainly didn't make it any easier for them. Their magic number is five with three of their final four games on the road

Pittsburgh came in with 95 points, hanging on to the first wild-card spot in the East with a shot at moving up — but also in jeopardy of adding even more drama to the stretch run.

Now just 3-7-1 in their last 11 games, they are more than a little worried.

"Every team that (hasn't locked up) a playoff spot right now, that's their biggest concern," said coach Mike Johnston.

Crosby and Brandon Sutter scored and Ian Cole had two assists for the Pittsburgh. Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves.

Defenseman Rob Scuderi was asked if the Penguins were more angry or frustrated after blowing a 2-0 lead for the third time in six games.

"It's both," he said. "We just didn't deserve this game. We didn't deserve to win. That should make everybody in here angry."

Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets have already been eliminated from the postseason but are the hottest team in the league.

"It's fun. It shows the character of this group," said Brandon Dubinsky, who assisted on all three of Foligno's goals. "We started pushing and we slowly started taking over the momentum."

Matt Calvert and Scott Hartnell also scored for the Blue Jackets, who won for the 11th time in 13 games. Sergei Bobrovsky made 33 saves and Marko Dano added two assists.

The Blue Jackets scored four goals in a row after trailing 2-0 late in the second period. They've come from behind in their last nine victories, a franchise record, and in 11 of their last 12 wins.

"The way it's going, I think we should pull our goaltender the first 5 minutes, give them a couple of goals and then play," coach Todd Richards joked.

Foligno and Calvert scored 2:03 apart to tie the score late in the second.

Then Foligno notched his second when he stole the puck by reaching around Derrick Pouiliot near the blue line. On a 2-on-1, Dubinsky's shot was blocked by Fleury with his right shoulder but Foligno cleaned up the rebound at 6:46 of the third.

Hartnell extended the lead to 4-2 when he jammed in a loose puck at 9:29 after a lengthy scrum with Fleury sprawled on the ice.

After Ben Lovejoy cut the lead to 4-3, Foligno added an empty-netter with just under a minute left.

"It's special. Amazing, actually," Foligno said of finally filling the ice with fans' hats.

It was the third time a Blue Jacket had scored three goals in the last six games, with Scott Hartnell and Cam Atkinson also pulling it off in the last 11 days. None had done it for two years before the latest flurry.

"The hat-trick flu is going around the team," said Dubinsky. "(Nick) was the latest victim."

Notes: Penguins C Evgeni Malkin missed his second straight game with an undisclosed injury. ... Columbus has also won a franchise-record eight in a row on the road heading into Monday's game at the New York Rangers. ... D Taylor Chorney, called up from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday, played in his third game for Pittsburgh this season. ... The Blue Jackets play two of their final four at home.


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

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