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Neal Leads Penguins To Two Weekend Victories

December 30, 2013

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.

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