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Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Pittsburgh Penguins - 12/29/13

Pittsburgh Penguins (28-11-1) at Columbus Blue Jackets (17-17-4)

NHL Hockey: Sunday, December 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm (Nationwide Arena)

The Line: Columbus Blue Jackets +114 / Pittsburgh Penguins -126 --- Over/Under: 5.5 See the Latest Odds

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The Pittsburgh Penguins got back to their winning ways following the Christmas break after having their winning streak snapped last Monday night against the Ottawa Senators. Pittsburgh survived an opening period surge from the Carolina Hurricanes that resulted in a goal coming with two seconds remaining in the opening frame to put the Canes ahead. Sidney Crosby would answer with the tying goal just 16 seconds into the second period, his 21st of the season, but Pittsburgh would fall behind just 14 seconds later. Trailing by a goal in the third period the Penguins took the lead on goals from Chris Conner and Deryk Engelland to jump in front 3-2 before Carolina rallied to tie it and send it to overtime. Just over a minute into the extra session the Penguins got the game winner from James Neal. It was Neal's 11th goal of the season and we learned just how valuable he is to this hockey club when he was out for a stretch earlier this season. Neal is able to sneak by in most games considering the number of talented players in the Pittsburgh lineup and it makes him a lethal threat each and every game. Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves and picked up his 22nd victory of the season. 

Friday night's victory for the Columbus Blue Jackets got them back to the NHL's version of .500 at 17-17-4. The Blue Jackets are starting to make a run here in the Metropolitan Division and they're getting production from two players they acquired when they traded superstar forward Rick Nash. It was Artem Anisimov who cleaned up a rebound shot from Brandon Dubinsky to give the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead over the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center. Curtis McElhinney didn't have much work in this one but kept the Blue Jackets in front until early in the third period when the Devils would tie it up. The two teams would go to a shootout where Cam Atkinson scored the only goal for either team to lift Columbus to a 2-1 win. With the state of the division right now the slow start to the season hasn't hurt Columbus as much as it could have. We're starting to see the type of work ethic from this hockey club that we saw last year as they made a late season push to the playoffs that came up just short. The Blue Jackets will still struggle against some of the upper echelon clubs however and this is a team that has been giving them trouble all season long. 

Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Pittsburgh Penguins - 12/29/13

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

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Pittsburgh -126

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