Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins finally flexed their offensive muscles.

And they needed every bit of scoring they could muster.

Malkin had a hat trick and the Penguins almost blew a four-goal lead before holding off the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 on Monday night to clinch their first-round playoff series in six games.

"It's more important that we win the game and (end) the series," Malkin said of the 10th time he's scored three times in a game in his career.

Pittsburgh awaits the winner of the New York-Philadelphia series, with the Rangers leading 3-2 going into Tuesday night's Game 6.

Wild 5, Avalanche 2: Zach Parise scored early and late on tipped shots, and Minnesota tacked on two empty-net goals for a victory against Colorado that sent the first-round playoff series to a decisive Game 7.

Parise and Mikko Koivu each had two assists. The teams will meet again in Denver on Wednesday night, with the winner taking on the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference semifinals.

Hurricanes: Jim Rutherford stepped down as general manager of the Hurricanes, and the team promoted Hall of Fame player Ron Francis to replace him. In a series of moves, the Hurricanes also hired Mike Vellucci as assistant G.M. and director of hockey operations and promoted Brian Tatum to assistant general manager.


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Norris Trophy finalists: Boston's Zdeno Chara, Chicago's Duncan Keith and Nashville's Shea Weber are finalists for the Norris Trophy, given annually to the NHL's best defenseman.