Pens eye 4th straight victory in clash with Blue Jackets

( - The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to push their winning streak to four straight games on Sunday evening when they play host to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Penguins finished the month of February strong, posting a 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals last time out on Wednesday. Pittsburgh's three straight wins counter a recent three-game slide and the club is three points ahead of Washington for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

The Pens also find themselves three points behind the second-place New York Rangers.

In danger of getting swept in a four-game season series by the Caps, the Penguins responded with Wednesday's win as Chris Kunitz netted the winner in the third period and Evgeni Malkin added three assists.

Pittsburgh took advantage of an undisciplined Washington squad as it had six power-play chances in the second period.

"When you're entering the stretch run, getting that extra one or two power plays a game is very important. We hung in there. We stuck with it and you know eventually over time you're going to get a power-play chance," said Pens head coach Mike Johnston.

Brandon Sutter, Patric Hornqvist and Sidney Crosby also lit the lamp for the Penguins, who got 21 saves from Marc-Andre Fleury.

Now the Penguins will try to solve the Blue Jackets, who had lost six in a row in this series before winning the first two of four meetings this season. That includes a 2-1 victory in Pittsburgh on Feb. 19 that improved Columbus to just 3-7-0 all-time in the Steel City.

Brandon Dubinsky had a short-handed goal with 2:17 left in regulation to help the Blue Jackets down the Penguins, while Curtis McElhinney made 29 saves.

Malkin scored and Fleury posted 28 stops, falling to 6-2-1 lifetime versus Columbus with a 2.16 goals against average and .931 save percentage.

The Blue Jackets will look to snap a five-game skid today, their longest losing streak since going 0-5-1 from Nov. 18-29. They were unable to crack the win column on Saturday, falling 2-0 to the New Jersey Devils.

McElhinney stopped 17-of-18 shots for Columbus, which is 15 points out of a wild card spot.

"I really liked our first (period)," Columbus head coach Todd Richards said. "They didn't spend a lot of time in our zone. It was disappointing coming out down 1-0 after the period."

McElhinney was backed up by Sergei Bobrovsky and it is unknown which of the two goaltenders will start today. Bobrovsky was activated off of injured reserve Saturday, having been out since Jan. 21 due to a groin injury.

However, the Blue Jackets learned that Dubinsky suffered a concussion in Thursday's loss to Montreal and is now out, while defenseman Kevin Connauton will sit out again today due to a lower-body injury.

Sunday will mark the Penguins debut of forward Daniel Winnik, who was acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday for forward Zach Sill, a fourth- round pick in 2015 and a second-round selection in 2016.

Winnik, 29, had seven goals and 25 points in 58 games with Toronto this season while leading the club with a plus-15 rating.