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Rossi: Stars are born when a series becomes best-of-three

Penguins/NHL Videos

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On Jan. 11 at Winnipeg, Boone Jenner became the first Blue Jackets rookie to score a winning goal on a penalty shot

By the numbers

3 —Goals scored by the Penguins' Brandon Sutter in his last seven playoff games.

29:36 — The Blue Jackets' Jack Johnson's average ice time against the Penguins.

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Friday, April 25, 2014, 8:15 p.m.

By the fifth game, a Stanley Cup playoff series already has taken many turns. This one between the Penguins and Blue Jackets has few rivals. It is the first in NHL history to feature blown multiple-goal leads, and these players seem poised to play a big role.

Boone Jenner

If the Penguins are not already sick of him — they should be — they probably do not fancy the prospect of facing Blue Jackets center Boone Jenner five times again next season.

Yeah, that should be fun given the confidence this postseason will give Jenner no matter the outcome of Round 1.

He is only 20, and there is room to add onto that 6-foot-2/208-pound frame. Already, though, Jenner looks built for playoff hockey. Against the Penguins, he has made a habit of working his way to the front of the net — and basically moving only after the whistle.

He has scored two goals and delivered 20 hits, and he has proven a willing and successful agitator. Jenner fills a role, does the dirty work and brings a spark. He plays with an edge.

He does for the Blue Jackets what Max Talbot once did for the Penguins.

Big goals in tight series usually go to guys who are known within their respective markets, not on the national stage.

They go to guys who seem predestined for a magical playoff moment. They go to guys who get it.

Jenner seems like that kind of guy. At the very least, so far, he seems like the kind of guy for whom the Penguins might not have a solution. Jenner is going to the net. He's made that clear.

He might not score the Blue Jackets' next big goal, but he is a good bet to be the reason goalie Marc-Andre Fleury cannot see the shot that puts the Penguins in a big series hole.

Brandon Sutter

Life works in funny ways.

Almost two months ago, Brandon Sutter was viewed as replaceable by Penguins management. GM Ray Shero sought a third-line upgrade before the trade deadline and even acquired Marcel Goc just in case.

Shero never made one of his patented big deadline deals. Goc was injured. Sutter suddenly finds himself as the most productive playoff center for a club that has Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

A series-clincher would seem fitting, if not fated.

Jack Johnson

One of Sidney Crosby's best friends might just ruin Crosby's MVP season.

Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson has owned Round 1 — and given the Penguins apparent inability to mark him, he is as likely a candidate as any to bring an end to their season.

He has done it offensively with three goals and defensively with 18 blocked shots, and his presence has been unmistakable. Johnson oozes confidence, and it's rubbing off on his upstart club.



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