PITTSBURGH — It wasn’t always pretty, but the Pittsburgh Penguins were able to deliver the knockout punch to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night with a 5-2 win in Game 5 to punch their ticket to the second round.
There they will face the winner of the Washington Capitals-Toronto Maple Leafs series.
Thanks to some strong play from Marc-Andre Fleury (he made 49 saves on Thursday) and an overwhelming offensive attack the Penguins were able to overcome what was, at times, some sketchy play in the defensive zone to advance.
Bryan Rust continued his strong postseason play with two more goals (giving him eight in his past 14 playoff games) while Phil Kessel picked up three points (a goal, two assists) in the win.
Sidney Crosby and Scott Wilson also picked up goals in the win.
The big story in this series though was missed opportunities for the Blue Jackets in their continued failure to build on the fast start they had in pretty much every game, as well as a nightmare performance from Sergei Bobrovsky in net.
Bobrovsky, the likely Vezina Trophy winner this season and a player that will probably get his share of MVP votes, played some of his worst hockey of the season at the worst possible time. He surrendered at least three goals in every game (and at least four goals in four games) and just never seemed to be comfortable at any point in the series.
After giving up the first three goals on Thursday, the Blue Jackets tried to mount a late rally in the second period with a pair of goals to cut the deficit to one.
But following an Alexander Wennberg goaltender interference penalty early in the third period Crosby helped put the game away with a ridiculous one-timer.
Just 53 seconds later Wilson added his first goal of the playoffs.