Instant analysis: Penguins eliminate Columbus in Game 5
April 20, 2017 9:39 PM
Marc-Andre Fleury makes a save on a shot from the Blue Jackets' Josh Anderson in the second period Thursday at PPG Paints Arena.
By Adam Bittner / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Penguins got a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series Thursday at PPG Paints Arena. Here are some initial impressions from the victory, which clinched the series win and sends the Penguins to a second-round matchup with the winner of the Toronto-Washington series.
It was over when: Sidney Crosby ripped a power play goal past Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky at 5:31 of the third period. The Blue Jackets had all the momentum at the end of the second period, down 3-2, but Crosby’s goal, followed shortly after by a marker by Scott Wilson, completely deflated Columbus. It was a rocket of a shot that carried the Penguins into the next round.
Heroes: Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury rebounded in a massive way from a rough Game 4, making 49 saves on 51 shots. He gave up a couple of goals but faced a ton of pressure at times and stood tall regardless. He kept the Penguins in it at the points where it seemed like Columbus had all the momentum, particularly at the beginning of the first period and the end of the second period. Then he made all the saves as Columbus pressed the action at the end, down three goals. He’s now the winningest goalie in franchise history.
Winger Bryan Rust scored two goals in the second period to stake the Penguins to a cushy 3-0. Of course, they did their best to let Columbus back into the game shortly thereafter, but give Rust credit for going to the front of the net to score to get two huge scores off rebounds. It always seems like it’s gritty goals like those that make a difference, and they certainly did Thursday night. Rust now has 10 goals in just 28 career playoff games.
Winger Phil Kessel snapped a nice shot past Sergei Bobrovsky for the Penguins’ first goal, then put a puck on net, where Rust was able to slam the rebound home for the second goal. He had another big game after quietly notching three assists to help keep the Penguins in Game 4.
Evgeni Malkin added two assists, including a great pass to set up Crosby’s goal, to match a career high with 11 points in the series.
Goats: The Blue Jackets’ penalty kill came up way short, allowing deflating goals to Phil Kessel in the first period and Crosby in the third. The first goal killed the momentum Columbus had built early in the first period, and Crosby’s goal, again, was basically a series-ender.
Better start: The Blue Jackets outshot the Penguins in the first period yet again, but the Penguins did a nice job controlling play for long stretches of the frame. The pressure helped them cash in on a power play goal, and it gave Fleury a breather from the relentless Columbus attack he faced in the first four games of the series.
Power play magic: As mentioned, the Penguins’ power play unit killed the Blue Jackets’ momentum with a goal in the first period and basically won it with Crosby’s goal in the third. That group was great all series and looked great in an elimination game. Those are good vibes the Penguins will surely be trying to build on in the next series.
What’s next: The Penguins will take on the winner of the Washington Capitals-Toronto Maple Leafs series. That schedule, obviously, will depend on the outcome. That series is tied, 2-2. Game 5 is Friday at 7 p.m. in Washington.
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner.