Pittsburgh 3 – Columbus 1
Dan Bylsma called out his team on Thursday and his team responded with a stout defensive effort, in a 3-1 Game 5 win to take a 3-2 series lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Penguins put together their first 60 minute game of the series and the better team won on Saturday night.
The Penguins won a type of grinding type game by being physical and going to the net to score goals. Chris Kunitz and Jussi Jokinen were the goal scorers while Kris Letang added an empty net goal for the Penguins.
How they played tonight is how they need to play on a consistent basis if they’re going to make it past the second round.
As pressure has mounted on Bylsma and goaltender Marc Andre Fleury, both silenced their critics for one night. After getting tough with his team through the media prior to the game, Bylsma made key adjustments in the game such as playing Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby together on a regular basis.
Bylsma felt moving Malkin and Crosby together had an impact throughout the lineup.
Brandon Sutter continued to impress in Game 5, playing a 200 foot game and he has been the Penguins best forward in the series. Lacking consistent offense during the regular season, Sutter has found some chemistry with Jussi Jokinen and James Neal.
“I thought Brandon Sutter playing between Jussi and James Neal, he was real strong in this game and you saw his speed through the neutral zone,” Bylsma said. “I think we went into the game with a good idea we were going to see that on numerous occasions, and I think the players going in knew it was going to happen.”
Another development for the Penguins was Kris Letang playing his best game of the series in all facets.
As for Marc Andre Fleury, the Penguins protected him very well but when he had to be strong he was, making 23 saves on 24 shots. Fleury had the crowd behind him in the third. “You get a little bit of goose bumps when you’re in there. It was a good feeling,” Fleury said of the chants.
In the playoffs you have to have a short memory and for the Blue Jackets, one positive they can look at was the play of Sergei Bobrovsky who was excellent making 48 saves on 50 shots. Pittsburgh outshot Columbus 51-24, including 38-20 at even strength.
How dominant were the Penguins? The Penguins had 82 shot attempts to the Blue Jackets 45.