Despite carrying play for most of Game 5, the Pittsburgh Penguins were forced to grind things out against the Columbus Blue Jackets with a 3-1 win, grabbing a 3-2 series lead in the process.
Sergei Bobrovsky kept the Blue Jackets in the game even as his team was regularly facing a barrage of Penguins shots.
Through two periods, Pittsburgh generated a 36-17 shot advantage and that didn’t slow down in the third period. Jussi Jokinen eventually broke free to give the Pens a 2-1 lead.
The breathless coverage might bury Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin – Penguins fans even went as far as to boo Crosby when Pittsburgh was down by a goal – yet both created chances. Crosby was particularly active in firing six shots on goal and getting an assist. Even so, Dan Bylsma experimented a bit with Malkin and Crosby together at even-strength, which is still a fairly rare sight.
Overall, the Penguins fired a ridiculous 50 shots on Bobrovsky (plus an empty-net goal) compared to the Blue Jackets’ 24. Marc-Andre Fleury didn’t face the busiest of nights, yet he must be relieved to get the win and only allowed one goal. (He also received an ovation from the fans in Pittsburgh).
Columbus actually generated a 1-0 lead in this game, so if you’re really sticking to a “no lead is safe” narrative, you can hang your hat on that.
The bigger story might be that the Penguins persevered but the Blue Jackets seem determined to make this a fight. The series shifts back to Columbus for Game 6 on Monday.