James Neal’s Sunday night hat trick capped off a successful weekend that saw Neal win a Friday night overtime game and then set a career high with five assists on Sunday.
Neal’s three-goals-and-two-assists performance on Sunday led the Pittsburgh Penguins (29-11-1) to a 5-3 win at Columbus. Sidney Crosby added his 22nd goal and two assists. Chris Kunitz tallied goal number 21. Rookie goaltender Jeff Zatkoff (7-2) earned his seventh consecutive victory. The Pens have now won 14 of their last 16 outings.
For the Blue Jackets (17-18-4), Brandon Dubinsky, Corey Tropp and Nikita Nikitin all scored. Curtis McElhinney (6-6-1) took the loss. Both goalies made 25 saves.
On Friday, Neal scored the game-winner 63 seconds into overtime in a 4-3 road victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Crosby, Chris Conner and Deryk Engelland also scored for Pittsburgh. The winning goaltender was Marc-Andre Fleury (22-9-1) with 31 saves in 34 opportunities.
Scoring for Carolina were Drayson Bowman, Nathan Gerbe and Andrej Sekera. The Panthers’ backup goaltender, Justin Peters, took the loss.
The Penguins will finish a four-game homestand playing the Devils (16-16-8) in New Jersey at 1:00 PM Tuesday afternoon. Radio pregame airtime on 96.3 KQW will be 12:30 PM.