The Penguins trailed the Blue Jackets, who began the night with the NHL's worst record, by four early in the second period but found a way to win for the fifth time in six games.
Jake Guentzel, Jason Zucker and Danton Heinen scored in a 3:38 span early in the third period to pull the Penguins even. Crosby's 28th goal of the season - a blast from the left circle - in the extra period allowed Pittsburgh to escape.
Zucker finished with two goals for Pittsburgh to push him across the 20-goal plateau for the first time since the 2019-20 season. Evgeni Malkin had three assists for the Penguins. Crosby and Rickard Rakell added two assists each while keeping the Blue Jackets winless at PPG Paints Arena since November 2015.
Casey DeSmith stopped all 15 shots he faced after replacing an ineffective Tristan Jarry early in the second period.
Patrik Laine, Emil Bemstrom, Liam Foudy and Lane Pederson all scored for Columbus but it wasn't enough. Michael Hutchinson - who replaced an ill Elvis Merzlikins at the start of the second period - wore down under constant pressure from Pittsburgh. Hutchinson made 35 saves but let the four-goal advantage he inherited slip away.
The Blue Jackets outskated and outplayed the Penguins over the first 25 minutes while sprinting to a massive lead.
Inattentive backchecking and shaky play by Jarry - who sat out a loss to Florida on Saturday due to an illness - led to a smattering of boos and tepid calls for the firing of general manager Ron Hextall after Foudy's wrist shot beat Jarry 2:37 into the second period to put Columbus up 4-0.
Jarry was replaced by DeSmith, though the switch did little to bring the Penguins to life. The well-traveled Hutchinson, making just his second appearance of the season, held the Penguins at bay save for Zucker's flip from in front just past the game's halfway point.
The three-goal lead, however, evaporated quickly in the third. Guentzel's 25th goal of the season 21 seconds into the final period gave the Penguins a jolt. Zucker's second of the game less than three minutes later brought Pittsburgh within one and when Heinen finished off an end-to-end rush by tapping in a feed from Rakell, the Penguins tied it.
Blue Jackets: Welcome St. Louis to Columbus on Saturday.
Penguins: Host the New York Islanders on Thursday. The Islanders have won each of the first three meetings between the Metropolitan Division rivals this season.
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