PITTSBURGH — Jake Guentzel scored his first career regular-season hat trick and the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 on Saturday night.
Guentzel’s first career hat trick came in the 2017 playoffs against Columbus, and he had another in the 2018 playoffs against Philadelphia.
Guentzel has scored six goals in his last seven games overall and has 16 points in 13 regular-season and playoff games against Columbus. He has nine goals, including two hat tricks, in his last eight games against the Blue Jackets.
Tanner Pearson also scored for the Penguins, who have won two of their last three after losing nine of their previous 10. Kris Letang had three assists and Sidney Crosby two. Phil Kessel continued an eight-game point streak for Pittsburgh and Evgeni Malkin has a seven-game run.
Pittsburgh won its sixth straight against the Blue Jackets, matching the longest win streak against Columbus. The Penguins also won their sixth straight at home against the Blue Jackets.
Casey DeSmith made 37 saves for Pittsburgh.
Cam Atkinson continued a career-best, seven-game goal streak with his 15th of the season. He tied the all-time franchise mark set in November 2002 by Geoff Sanderson. Atkinson, with nine goals and 13 points in seven games, owns the longest goal-scoring streak of any NHL player this season.
Scott Harrington also scored for the Blue Jackets, who lost for the second time in three games after winning five of their previous six. Joonas Korpisalo stopped 32 shots for the Blue Jackets.
Harrington, Pearson and Guentzel scored three goals in 2:13 as Pittsburgh held an early 2-1 lead.
Harrington, Pittsburgh’s second-round pick in 2011, opened the scoring for Columbus, but Pearson responded 45 seconds later with his third goal in four games.
Guentzel took a drop pass from Crosby and sent a wrist shot behind Korpisalo from the slot to put Pittsburgh in front.
Guentzel scored again on a second Crosby drop pass later in the period. Crosby powered around Columbus defenceman Markus Nutivaara and dropped a pass to Guentzel, who beat Korpisalo to the blocker side with a wrist shot.
Atkinson made it 3-2 when he scored in his seventh straight, but Guentzel restored Pittsburgh’s two-goal lead with his third of the game, a backhander from the top of the crease.
NOTES: Both teams had goals disallowed in the second period. … Penguins’ F Patric Hornqvist missed the game with a concussion. … Malkin tied Jaromir Jagr for third on the team’s all-time games played list and Letang equaled Brooks Orpik for most by a defenceman in team history. … Penguins’ D Jack Johnson played his former team for the first time since signing a five-year, free-agent contract with Pittsburgh in the off-season. Johnson spent seven seasons in Columbus. … Mike Sullivan coached in his 240th game with the Penguins, tying Bob Berry and Johnny Wilson for fifth-most in franchise history.
Blue Jackets: Visit Detroit on Monday.
Penguins: Travel to Winnipeg on Tuesday.
More NHL hockey: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Dan Scifo, The Associated Press