Jussi Jokinen has scored 12 playoff goals since he broke into the NHL.
It’s safe to assume that all have come from a greater distance than the one he got Saturday night.
And even though four of the previous 11 were game-winners, it’s unlikely any were much more significant.
Bylsma discusses game 5 win
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma discusses his team's game 5 win over the Blue Jackets Saturday night. (Video by Matt Freed; 4/26/14)
Jokinen broke a 1-1 tie at 6:16 of the third period to propel the Penguins to a 3-1 victory over Columbus at Consol Energy Center in Game 5 of their opening-round playoff series.
The victory gives the Penguins a 3-2 lead in the series. They can clinch a spot in Round 2 against the winner of the Philadelphia-New York Rangers series with a victory in Game 6 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus Monday at 7:08 p.m.
If Game 7 is necessary, it will be Wednesday at Consol Energy Center.
The Penguins made two lineup changes for Game 5, as center Marcel Goc returned from an extended absence due to a foot problem and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo filled in for Brooks Orpik, who was scratched because of an unspecified injury.
Coach Dan Bylsma also reconfigured his forward combinations. He played Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin together, with Chris Kunitz on the left side, and bumped Brandon Sutter up into Malkin’s usual spot between Jokinen and James Neal.
Neither Crosby nor Malkin was able to get a goal, a recurring theme in this series, but Sutter and Jokinen teamed up with Lee Stempniak for the one that put the Penguins in front to stay.
Stempniak threw a shot toward the net, and Sutter put the rebound off the mask of goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
Before Bobrovsky could locate the puck and cover it, Jokinen nudged it out of the crease and across the goal line.
“I was able to beat their defenseman to the puck laying there,” said Jokinen, whose goal was his third of the series.
Bobrovsky faced 50 shots, and turned aside all but two. Kunitz’s got the Penguins’ first goal during a power play at 7:42 of the second, when he controlled the rebound of a Crosby shot and, after Bobrovsky rejected his initial attempted, put a second one behind him.
For a time, it looked as if the power-play goal Boone Jenner scored for Columbus at 12:55 of the opening period might be enough to give the Blue Jackets the upper hand in the series, because Bobrovsky was turning aside everything that came his way.
“He was solid,” Crosby said. “When it’s tight like that and you’re getting some good chances and they’re not going in, you just have to stay patient.
“You see that time and time again in the playoffs. You just trust that, eventually, you’ll get it if you keep going to the net and eventually, we did.”
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury wasn’t tested nearly as often as Bobrovsky, but came within a fraction of a second of earning a shutout.
He was just about to cover a loose puck near the crease when Columbus defenseman David Savard charged in from the right point, pushing it toward Jenner at the left side of the crease.
Fleury rejected the other 23 shots Columbus sent at him, earning a satisfying bounce-back victory after his late-game problems three nights earlier, when a puck bounced over his stick to make a game-tying goal possible in the final half-minute of regulation and the game-winner knuckled past him less than three minutes into overtime.
“I’m happy to win, for sure,” Fleury said. “I tried to put the other one behind me quick. … I wasn’t too worried about my game.”
Not nearly as worried, perhaps, as Columbus is about its game, because the Blue Jackets are convinced they didn’t test Fleury often – or severely – enough.
“We didn’t give Fleury enough traffic,” center Brandon Dubinsky said. “We didn’t create enough scrums in front of the net to make him fight for the puck. When we did, we put it in the back of the net.”
That doesn’t mean Dubinsky is unaware of what Fleury can contribute to his team.
“Everybody wants to say one thing or another about him, but the guy has won a Stanley Cup,” he said. “You don’t do that by accident.”
No, winning in the playoffs takes solid goaltending. It also helps when a team generates 50 shots on goal and competes all over the ice for pretty much 60 minutes.
Which the Penguins did for the first time in the series.
“I thought this was our best effort,” Stempniak said. “That’s what we have to do to win.”
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG