It may not have started the way Pittsburgh wanted, but in the end, they found a way to win the game.
Behind a stellar performance from one Marc-Andre Fleury, the Penguins’ defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 in Game 5 Saturday night, and took a 3-2 series advantage.
Judging Pittsburgh in the first period, you would have thought they were sleeping.
Although the Pens’ generated 15 shots on net, their puck management was subpar, and they had no jump whatsoever. Which is why Columbus was able to strike first.
Gaining a power-play opportunity off a slash from the re-inserted Marcel Goc, ‘Jackets forward Boone Jenner, whose been a thorn in Pittsburgh’s side all series, tapped in Columbus’ first goal with 7:05-minutes left in the period – his third goal in five games.
Heading into the second stanza down one, Pittsburgh desperately needed something to get them going. Awarded with a power-play 6:55-minutes into the period, Pittsburgh would finally see mesh.
Receiving a pass from captain Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, who was camped out in front of the net, shot it off ‘Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, and then punched home his own rebound to even up the score, with 12:18-minutes left in the second.
Failing to capitalize on a man-advantage later in the period, the score would remain 1-1 after two.
Tightly contested for the first five-minutes of the third period, Pittsburgh would find twine to take their first lead of the game. Third-line center Brandon Sutter, who had a phenomenal outing, got a shot on Bobrovsky, and with the puck laying in front of the cage, forward Jussi Jokinen buried the Pens’ second tally, 6:16-minutes into the third.
For the rest of the last stanza, Pittsburgh – unlike their other tilts this series – didn’t turn down the intensity from there-on-out. Which is exactly what they needed to do all along.
Unable to convert on a power-play with 4:55-minutes left in the game, everything was smooth sailing for the remaining two-minutes, as Pittsburgh would go on to pot their third goal of the contest, courtesy of an empty-netter by defenseman Kris Letang, to take a 3-2 series lead.
Without Fleury and Sutter, Pittsburgh may have been on the losing end of this game, but because they both put forth exceptional efforts, it’s the Pens who own a 3-2 series lead heading back to Columbus.
Two other main keys to Pittsburgh’s Game 5 win are attributed to their face-off wins, and discipline.
Towards the end of game, a stat flashed up on the screen that said Pittsburgh had won 24-of-their-last-33 face-off attempts – which was outstanding. That, and they only committed two penalties all game – which kept the ‘Jackets from generating any momentum.
Another successful part of their outing, was Pittsburgh’s shot total. Absolutely pelting Bobrovsky with 50 shots on net, that’s the type of ammunition Pittsburgh is going to have to produce night-in and night-out if they want to come out on top.
Bouncing back from a disappointing end to Game 4, Fleury stopped 23-of-24 ‘Jackets chances, and proved to all the naysayers that he’s able to break the detrimental psyche, and regroup.
Other stats to pass along – Craig Adams, Chris Kunitz, Matt Niskanen, and Lee Stempniak all added an assist each.
Game 6 is Monday, where Pittsburgh will look to close out the series.
The outing can be seen on the ROOT Network, and is set to start at 7 p.m.
Tags: Pittsburgh Penguins