Following a close battle in Pittsburgh, the Penguins take a 3-2 lead in the series on the heels of a solid performance from Marc-Andre Fleury and the rest of the Penguins. After a disappointing game four loss in Columbus, head coach Dan Bylsma called for more effort from his stars and goaltender. The result, the Penguins edge the Bluejackets with goals by Kunitz and Jokinen, and an empty netter by Kris Letang.
After a hard fought first period which saw the Jackets leading 1-0 at the conclusion, the Penguins fought back over the next forty minutes behind the likes of 52 shots against sturdy netminder Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky was perfect through one, facing 15 shots from the Pens. Teammate Boone Jenner had the Jackets goal, scoring their only goal with five seconds left on a powerplay just after the halfway mark in the first. Jenner was knocked down beside the net and got up to find the puck on his stick after Fleury failed to secure a rebound at the net-front.
In the second period on the powerplay, Chris Kunitz opened the scoring for the Penguins at 7:42 as Sidney Crosby took a pass from Matt Niskanen and put a shot toward the net from the left side. Kunitz deflected the puck and picked up his own rebound, swatting it past the outstretched leg of Bobrovsky.
The goal proved to be a momentum builder for the Pens. They took over play for the remainder of the period, pumping a total of 21 shots toward the Bluejacket net versus eight for the Jackets in the second. Even with the strong shot totals for the Pens, Crosby and Malkin each held the puck for less than 20 seconds through the first two periods.
In the third, the Pens were hungry and controlled play. Six minutes in Lee Stempniak carried the puck through the neutral zone and after beating a back-checking Jack Skille at the blueline, he put a shot on net. Brandon Sutter was able to get his stick on the rebound and push it past Bobrovsky, where Jussi Jokinen shoveled home the rebound for the 2 – 1 lead.
From here, the Pens’ defense held and Kris Letang added an empty netter as Fleury turned away the seven shots he saw in the period.
With the Penguins taking a 3-2 lead in the series, play will shift back to Columbus for game six on Monday as the Bluejackets hope to rebound at home while the Penguins look to end their playoffs early