Both the Penguins rolling with the same personnel for Game 5 as in Game 4
Our people. pic.twitter.com/YuytslUJGx— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 20, 2017
The Blue Jackets make one lineup change, having to scratch captain Nick Foligno with a here-to unknown lower body injury. Luckily they have big, slow wingers waiting around and can replace him with Scott Hartnell.
Pittsburgh starts out slow yet again with the first 5 shots all going to Columbus, including one that flutters over the shoulder of Marc-Andre Fleury but luckily Olli Maatta is there to knock the puck out of mid-air before it falls into the net.
Then it's Matt Cullen's time for a near score, ringing a puck off the post of Sergei Bobrovsky. Note on the play David Savard drops to a knee, fails to block the shot but doesn't help his goalie's line of sight too much there.
The Pens get a power play and Phil Kessel cashes in. Note again that Savard drops to a down again in a similar fashion, again doesn't block the shot as it rockets by short-side on Bob. 1-0 Pens.
Columbus plays a little better towards the end of the period, but Pittsburgh escapes with the lead. Shots 15-12 CBJ.
The Pens don't start the 2nd very good either but Fleury makes a few great plays and then the 2nd line goes to work. Nice pass by Kessel, nice pass by Evgeni Malkin. Kessel puts it on goal and the rebound kicks to Bryan Rust and Bob is out to lunch and Rust can backhand smack one in.
Soon after Rust strikes again, Bob with a bad rebound that takes an unlucky bounce off a Jacket and right to Rust and he flips it again backhand before Bob can get to the post. Atrocious stuff for CBJ but the Pens will take it all day long. 3-0 now.
In nine career elimination games, Rust has 7 goals and 1 assist. Not bad. Not bad at all. pic.twitter.com/CB5TyBO4Hn— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 21, 2017
Josh Anderson acts a fool and starts the typical CBJ dirty games by slashing then cross-checking Malkin away from the play after the goal, Pittsburgh gets a power play but can't put the nail in the coffin just yet.
Columbus gets on the board when a Ron Hainsey clear unluckily hits Sam Gagner and drops right to his feet. Gagner gets it down to William Karlsson who looks to the net with an elevated backhand shot which takes a bounce off Fleury and in the net. 3-1.
Jackets on the comeback trail now - a rare power play goal when Seth Jones gets free space and unleashes a rocket that Fleury stops but the puck is free for Boone Jenner to smack out of mid-air. Gulp. 3-2.
BOOOOOOOONE cuts the deficit to one goal! pic.twitter.com/hs0BSdpErR— The Cannon (@cbjcannon) April 21, 2017
Columbus keeps pushing hard to end the period. Shots in the period 17-11 but it feels at the end like CBJ has gotten the better of it. Luckily Rust scored twice early to retain the lead. 3-2 with 20 minutes left.
Pens get a power play when Columbus runs the goalie (shocking, I know). Savard doubles down on the dirt by cross-checking Hornqvist into the net (no call) away from the play and that seems to touch a nerve on Crosby and Malkin. They dig and connect for a PPG to make it 4-2. Poor Bob doesn't stand a chance.
Just Crosby things. Unreal, spectacular Crosby things. pic.twitter.com/KlZ0RXrt23— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 21, 2017
Make it 5-2 after Scott Wilson makes a nifty backwards push into the net. Wild but you'll take it any time of the year, especially in the 3rd period of an elimination game. Goalie wasn't exactly taking away much of the net, but hey it was a quick little sneaky shot and it worked, which is the best kind of shot.
Umm, what?! Wilson with his first playoff goal (and a side of trickery). pic.twitter.com/SkTtLP6DTg— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 21, 2017
Columbus really behind the 8-ball throwing everything at Fleury, he stands tall. Game, set, match, series.
- Jackets get 8 of the first 9 shots on goal, Pens flip the script and get 8 of the next 9 SOG for themselves. Crazy how the shifts in momentum can be so decisive but seemingly random.
Pittsburgh makes their first real line change of the series- stating in the 3rd period - bumping Patric Hornqvist up to the Crosby line and taking Conor Sheary down to the 3rd line with Nick Bonino. Hard to argue, Sheary's been pretty invisible the past handful of games and the 3rd line wasn't getting a lot going. And as the Trib's Bill West pointed out, Sheary's Corsi numbers were strug-gul-ling as Joe Namath might say.
- Looking at the final stat line, almost couldn't believe Fleury made 49 saves on 51 shots. He was solid tonight. It took some frantic efforts at time, but it got the job more than done. MAF was so good in Games 1 and 2 of this series but not very impressive in Games 3 and 4, really. And yeah, some of that is his team, not all his fault, but he was sharp as a tack tonight. The Penguins needed it.
- On the flip side of the coin, oof Sergei Bobrovsky. Can't believe he had such a great regular season and then looked like THAT this series. Is that the Penguins skill shining through? Or him falling apart?
- One great thing now for the Pens is rest. . Trevor Daley and Kessel didn't practice yesterday due to what coach Sullivan described as minor dings.
- Speaking of Sullivan, I think this makes Pittsburgh 8-1 now in playoff games following a loss under Sully. That's just an unreal mark and something very special. Gotta respond after a loss if you want to keep playing.
- Last year, by the way, the Pens had 4 days off in between series 1 and 2 (after they won Round 1 in five games, and it took Washington 6). The Caps only had 3 days off. This year, based on schedule, that's going to be a wider spread. Even if Caps/Leafs ends in 6 games (one way, or the other) they still are playing Friday night and Sunday night. And then Tuesday too if it goes 7 games. So it's hard to imagine this series doesn't start without the Penguins getting at least 6 days off. That could bode well to get guys like Kunitz and Hagelin back, as well as heal up bumps and bruises for the regulars.
- And, hey, let's give credit to Columbus. 4th best record in the league this year. 16 game winning streak. Lot of positives for them. Even when this game was 3-0, blink and it was 3-2. They kept on battling. Congrats to all of them (except Dubinsky and Calvert), brighter days look ahead.
- Also, big ups and handshakes to our SBN Columbus blog at The Cannon. Bunch of great folks over there. Don't go over there and stir up raw emotions at a time like this, but those are good people doing good work at that website. We respect and wish them (somewhat) all of the best, as much as you can wish a division rival anyways.
And now the Pens are 4 down and 12 more to go. This task is accomplished and now they have a bit of a breather to rest up and focus on the next one.