Russian star Evgeni Malkin scored a hat trick to power the Pittsburgh Penguins over Columbus 4-3 and into the second round of the National Hockey League playoffs.
Malkin broke out of a scoring slump with his first goals of the playoffs, helping stake Pittsburgh to a four-goal edge Monday before Columbus rallied late with three goals in a five-minute span of the third period only to fall short.
The Penguins captured the best-of-seven series four games to two and will next face either the New York Rangers or Philadelphia Flyers for a spot in the Eastern Conference final.
Brandon Sutter also scored for Pittsburgh, but the Blue Jackets battled back, Nick Foligno’s successful redirection pulling Columbus within the final margin with 4:47 remaining.
Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and Penguins counterpart Marc-Andre Fleury each made 24 saves.
It was only the second playoff series in club history for the Blue Jackets.
Malkin’s only other playoff hat trick came against Carolina in the 2009 Eastern Conference final.