Evgeni Malkin dumped a puck early. A third-liner scored the go-ahead goal late. The Penguins held onto a lead.

This was not a perfect opening to the Stanley Cup playoffs, but it provided a look at how things are different with these Penguins.

Start, as veteran winger Craig Adams did, with the lead that was protected after center Brandon Sutter scored what proved to be the final goal with about 12 minutes remaining in regulation of a 4-3 victory over Columbus at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday night.

The Blue Jackets registered only five shots after Sutter's marker.

“That's what we've been working on the last few years,” Adams said. “We don't always do it, but we've gotten better at it.

“Actually, I thought right from the first period we had the right guys making the right play with the puck: (Malkin) dumping the puck in, (James Neal) dumping the puck, stuff like that.

“We made a couple of mistakes and got burned, but we stayed patient, and as the game went on you could see it working.”

The Penguins lead the best-of-seven series 1-0. Game 2 is Saturday night at Consol Energy Center.

Since winning the Cup in 2009, the Penguins have taken the first two home games from a series only once in seven attempts. They did it in seven of eight series during their 2008 and '09 Final runs.

The Blue Jackets, in only their fifth playoff game, nearly stole home-ice advantage. They raced to a 3-1 lead — scoring at even strength (defenseman Jack Johnson), on the power play (center Mark Letestu) and short-handed (center Derek MacKenzie) — before a couple of quick-strike goals by the Penguins early in the second period.

Winger Beau Bennett and defenseman Matt Niskanen scored within 45 seconds of one another after Bennett needed only 51 seconds to answer MacKenzie's goal.