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Rust's 2 goals help Penguins eliminate Blue Jackets in 5 games

| Thursday, April 20, 2017, 9:45 p.m.

Normally, Bryan Rust is a procrastinator.

He doesn't file his taxes, for example, until his mother calls him and prods him to do so just before the April deadline.

"She's an accountant, so she tends to get on me about that stuff," Rust said.

When it comes to finishing off playoff series, however, Rust has a different approach. He believes in not putting off until tomorrow what he can do today.

Rust scored a pair of goals in the second period to back a brilliant 49-save performance from Marc-Andre Fleury as the Penguins secured a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night, closing the first-round Eastern Conference series in five games.

The Penguins will face the winner of the series between the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round. That series is tied 2-2.

Fans enter PPG Paints Arena before Game 5 of the Penguins' first-round series against the Blue Jackets on Thursday April 20, 2017. For more images from Game 5, visit the Trib's photo gallery.

Photo by Christian Tyler Randolph

 

It was the third two-goal game in a clinching scenario in Rust's young NHL career.

Rust scored the Penguins' only goals in a 2-1 victory over Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals last season. He also scored twice in a Game 5 clincher against the Rangers in the first round.

"He's one of those guys … high-stakes players, players that play their best when the games are most important," coach Mike Sullivan said. "Rusty has shown that ability in the short time he's been a Penguin. He did that last year all playoffs long for us, and he's continuing to do that again."

Fleury also fit the definition of a high-stakes player Thursday night, making 49 saves — a career high for a regulation playoff game — to pass Tom Barrasso on the team's all-time postseason wins list with 57.

In a game filled with wild momentum swings, he was at his best when Columbus pressed the hardest — the first five minutes of the game, and the second half of the second period, for example.

"The biggest thing was to find the puck," Fleury said. "They always had somebody around. If I can see it leave the guy's stick, I have a better chance of knowing where it's going and being in the right spot. The way our guys battled, our D, they helped me out in front."

The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, had two main laments after seeing a 108-point season end five games into the playoffs.

First, they were upset that a potentially tying goal almost six minutes into the third was waved off due to a goaltender interference penalty on Alexander Wennberg. Second, they regretted that their massive 51-32 shots advantage didn't turn into more goals.

"I think we had over 30 chances, which is just insane," coach John Tortorella said. "We needed to capitalize. We didn't. They did."

The wild momentum swings started from the drop of the puck. After Fleury helped the Penguins withstand Columbus' initial surge, Phil Kessel scored on a short-side wrister from the left faceoff circle on the power play to give the Penguins the lead for good.

Rust's two-goal outburst came in the second period. He scored on a pair of rebounds less than three minutes apart, one on a Kessel shot from the left wing and one after he flew up the right wing and got his own shot on goal.

Columbus fired back, closing to within 3-2 on a William Karlsson backhander from the right wing that rolled up over Fleury's right shoulder and a Boone Jenner airborne rebound whack.

The Penguins finished things off with their final flurry, a bad-angle Sidney Crosby shot from the right wing on the power play and a spinning no-look rebound bid by Scott Wilson 51 seconds apart in the third.

"It was crazy. It was a pretty intense game. Obviously a lot on the line," defenseman Justin Schultz said. "They were coming at us. Their season was on the line. They played well, but Flower was huge."

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Bryan Rust celebrates his second goal against the Blue Jackets in the second period Thursday, April 20, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist celebrate with Phil Kessel after Kessel's goal against the Blue Jackets in the first period Thursday, April 20, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins right wing Patric Hornqvist (72) is knocked to the ice by Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard (58) in front of the goal in the second period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins left wing Conor Sheary (43) fights to keep the puck during a check from Blue Jackets defenseman Kyle Quincey (26) in the second period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins right wing Patric Hornqvist tries to put a rebound past Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (72) in the second period of Game 5 in the first round Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinksy (17) tries to keep his balance and celebrate a goal against the Blue Jackets in the second period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) blocks a shot on goal against the Blue Jackets in the second period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Blue Jackets' Boone Jenner knocks the puck out of the air and past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury in the second period Thursday, April 20, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins right wing Patric Hornqvist (72) tries to put back a shot on goal against the Blue Jackets in the second period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) shoves away Blue Jackets center Boone Jenner (38) in the second period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins defenseman Ron Hainsey (65) talks to Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) after a Blue Jackets goal in the second period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) blocks a shot on goal against the Blue Jackets in the second period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Blue Jackets center Boone Jenner (38) celebrates a goal against the Penguins in the second period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Bryan Rust celebrates his second goal against the Blue Jackets with the bench in the second period Thursday, April 20, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) tries to knock away the puck from the ice against the Blue Jackets in the second period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Blue Jackets center Boone Jenner (38) scores a goal against the Penguins in the second period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury makes a save off his mask against the Blue Jackets' Matt Calvert in the second period Thursday, April 20, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Blue Jackets' Boone Jenner celebrates his goal against the Penguins in the second period Thursday, April 20, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) controls the puck against the Blue Jackets in the second period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins right wing Bryan Rust (17) scores past Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (72) in the second period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Players stack in front of the goal during play between the Penguins and the Blue Jackets in the second period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (72) dives to knock away a puck against the Penguins in the second period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Phil Kessel celebrates his goal against the Blue Jackets in the first period Thursday, April 20, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Blue Jackets defenseman Markus Nutivaara (65) clears the puck from the front of the goal against the Penguins in the first period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins center Nick Bonino (13) falls on a loose puck in front of the goal against the Blue Jackets in the first period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (72) blocks a shot on goal from Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) in the first period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Patric Hornqvist celebrates Phil Kessel's goal agains the Blue Jackets in the first period Thursday, April 20, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta (3) blocks the puck from entering the goal against the Blue Jackets in the first period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) watches a deflected shot on goal against the Blue Jackets in the first period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins right wing Phil Kessel takes a shot against the Blue Jackets in the first period of Game 5 on Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Patric Hornqvist watches as Phil Kessel's shot beat Blue Jackets Sergei Bobrovsky in the first period Thursday, April 20, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins center Nick Bonino (13) falls on a loose puck in front of the goal against the Blue Jackets in the first period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin (8) fends off Blue Jackets center Sam Gagner (89) in the first period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Blue Jackets defenseman Kyle Quincey (26) hangs onto the arm of Penguins center Matt Cullen (7) in the first period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) hangs on the net after a goal by the Blue Jackets in the second period of Game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Blue Jackets' William Karlsson beats Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleruy in the second period Thursday, April 20, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) defends the goal against the Blue Jackets in the third period of game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday April 20, 2017.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) is embraced by a line of teammates after their win against the Blue Jackets in the third period of game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday April 20, 2017.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins left wing Scott Wilson (23) and teammates celebrate a goal against the Blue Jackets in the third period of game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday April 20, 2017.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Blue Jackets Head Coach John Tortorella yells at a referee after a call against his team during play against the Penguins in the third period of game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday April 20, 2017.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins left wing Scott Wilson (23) flicks the puck from behind his back for a goal against the Blue Jackets in the third period of game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday April 20, 2017.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) catches an airborne puck in front of the goal against the Blue Jackets in the third period of game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday April 20, 2017.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (72) is unable able to stop a shot on goal from Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) in the third period of game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday April 20, 2017.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) stops a shot on goal against the Blue Jackets in the third period of game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday April 20, 2017.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins center Nick Bonino (13) jumps to catch the puck in front of the goal against the Blue Jackets in the third period of game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday April 20, 2017.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penguins left wing Scott Wilson (23) celebrates a goal against the Blue Jackets in the third period of game 5 in the first round of NHL playoffs at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday April 20, 2017.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Olli Maatta knocks the puck away from behind goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury against the Blue Jackets in the first period Thursday, April 20, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby celebrates his goal against the Blue Jackets in the third period Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Patric Hornqvist and the Blue Jackets' David Savard fight for the puck down the boards in the first period Thursday, April 20, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Bryan Rust scores the first of his two goals against the Blue Jackets in the second period Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby beats Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky in the third period Thursday, April 20, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
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