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Dumoulin Scores!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017, 12:00PM

Go ahead, spin it as a potential playoff preview, even a battle for home ice. Geographical rivals. Teams that genuinely dislike one another.

None of those factors told us nearly as much about Tuesday’s 4-1 Penguins win over the Blue Jackets at PPG Paints Arena compared to what occurred at 12:30 of the second period: Defenseman Brian Dumoulin scored a goal.

In a game. Puck went across the goal line. People cheered. Music blared. The whole deal.

“It feels good to get that off my back,” Dumoulin said, describing the feeling of going 150 games and 841 calendar days without a goal in the regular season. “It wasn’t something I was stressing over, but it definitely feels good to have one wind up in the back of the net.”

Dumoulin, of course, scored in the Penguins’ Stanley Cup-clinching Game 6 victory over San Jose and previously in the Eastern Conference Final against Tampa Bay. So it’s not a completely unfamiliar feeling for him; Dumoulin simply saves his goals for the biggest moments.

But the zero next to Dumoulin’s name had become something of a running joke on this team, with the good-natured Dumoulin taking it in stride and his teammates rooting for him to finally get one.

As soon as the puck crossed the goal line Tuesday, it was obvious to everyone in attendance how happy the Penguins were for Dumoulin.

“I’ve been saying it for 150 games, ‘This is the time,’ ” Dumoulin said. “It wasn’t that I picked [Tuesday] to score. I wish I could say that. I’ve been trying to score a goal for 150 games now. It was nice to get that one. Hopefully I can start a streak here.”

What did Dumoulin do to celebrate?

“No idea,” Dumoulin said. “I don’t know what I did.”

This one nearly had a cruel twist.

Moments after Dumoulin’s shot caromed off Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson and past goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, coach John Tortorella challenged, arguing the Penguins were offside on the play.

The goal stood, but not without a fair amount of fretting for Dumoulin.

“I knew it was close,” Dumoulin said. “When it went to the review, I didn’t realize how close it was. I was hoping they weren’t going to take that one back.”

On the sequence — played at four-on-four — Dumoulin picked up a pass from Jake Guentzel in the left circle, weaved his way around the net and banked the puck off of Atkinson’s knee.

“I think I blacked out,” Dumoulin said of how the play transpired before turning serious. “Guentzel found me coming down the side. Got a good bounce off Atkinson. I’m sure he’s got a couple on me. He owed me one.”

There was an ear-to-ear smile on Dumoulin’s face after he scored what turned out to be his first in 151 games, like someone just got him the Christmas present he had been waiting months for.

When the goal call was upheld, Dumoulin breathed a sigh of relief as teammates offered individual congratulations.

Fellow defenseman Ian Cole had said he would tackle Dumoulin out of excitement whenever he did actually get a goal, but Cole broke his promise and remained seated on the bench.

“I didn’t want it to be too big,” Dumoulin said. “I have scored a goal before. It shouldn’t be too big of a deal. Definitely the guys were happy for me. It was a fun experience.”

If he’s looking for more sarcastic fun, maybe Dumoulin could point out that he played a team-high 23:00 against the Blue Jackets, perhaps after Penguins coach Mike Sullivan realized Dumoulin’s shooting percentage was perfect.

Dumoulin also registered three hits and blocked a pair of shots, all contributions that helped the Penguins build a three-point lead on Columbus for the race to home-ice advantage in what appears to be an opening-round series between the teams.

“It was a good win for us,” Dumoulin said. “We still have some games here that we need to focus on and keep working and trying to secure that. I thought it was a good effort tonight. They played well. We just have to keep this going.”

One could only reasonably assume that Dumoulin meant his own offensive outburst.