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Penguins rally to down Blue Jackets, inch closer to Round 2

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Sidney Crosby celebrates with Chris Kunitz after Kunitz's second-period power-play goal against the Blue Jackets during Game 5 of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Sidney Crosby celebrates with Chris Kunitz after Kunitz's second-period power-play goal against the Blue Jackets during Game 5 of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo gets to a loose puck before the Blue Jackets' Artem Anisimov during the second period of Game 5 of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo gets to a loose puck before the Blue Jackets' Artem Anisimov during the second period of Game 5 of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury makes a second-period save against the Blue Jackets during Game 5 of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury makes a second-period save against the Blue Jackets during Game 5 of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Penguins celebrates Chris Kuntiz's second-period power-play goal against the Blue Jackets during Game 5 of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins celebrates Chris Kuntiz's second-period power-play goal against the Blue Jackets during Game 5 of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Chris Kunitz celebrates his power-play goal with Sidney Crosby during the second period of Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Blue Jackets on Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Chris Kunitz celebrates his power-play goal with Sidney Crosby during the second period of Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Blue Jackets on Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin celebrates with Chris Kunitz, Paul Martin and Sidney Crosby after Kunitz scored a power-play goal during the second period in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Blue Jackets on Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin celebrates with Chris Kunitz, Paul Martin and Sidney Crosby after Kunitz scored a power-play goal during the second period in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Blue Jackets on Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Chris Kunitz scores past Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky during the second period in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Chris Kunitz scores past Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky during the second period in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury pokechecks the puck away from the Blue Jackets' Cam Atkinson during the second period in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury pokechecks the puck away from the Blue Jackets' Cam Atkinson during the second period in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury makes a save on the Blue Jackets' Ryan Johansen during the first period of Game 5 on Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center. Johansen and the Jackets face an elimination game at home Monday.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury makes a save on the Blue Jackets' Ryan Johansen during the first period of Game 5 on Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center. Johansen and the Jackets face an elimination game at home Monday.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - The Blue Jackets' Boone Jenner scores past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and defenseman Olli Maatta during the first period in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Blue Jackets' Boone Jenner scores past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and defenseman Olli Maatta during the first period in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky makes a save on the Penguins' Sidney Crosby during the first period in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky makes a save on the Penguins' Sidney Crosby during the first period in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - The Blue Jackets' Boone Jenner scores past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and defenseman Olli Maatta during the first period in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Blue Jackets' Boone Jenner scores past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and defenseman Olli Maatta during the first period in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - The Blue Jackets' Boone Jenner scores past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and defenseman Olli Maatta during the first period in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Blue Jackets' Boone Jenner scores past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and defenseman Olli Maatta during the first period in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Brandon Sutter checks the Blue Jackets' Ryan Murray during the first period during Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Brandon Sutter checks the Blue Jackets' Ryan Murray during the first period during Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Marcel Goc knocks down the Blue Jackets' Nikita Nikitin during Game 5 of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series on Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center. The Penguins re-signed Goc to a one-year, $1.2 million contract on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Marcel Goc knocks down the Blue Jackets' Nikita Nikitin during Game 5 of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series on Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center. The Penguins re-signed Goc to a one-year, $1.2 million contract on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Chris Kunitz is called for goaltender interference on the Blue Jackets' Sergei Bobrovsky during Game 5 of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Chris Kunitz is called for goaltender interference on the Blue Jackets' Sergei Bobrovsky during Game 5 of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky makes a first-period save against the Penguins during Game 5 of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky makes a first-period save against the Penguins during Game 5 of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Jussi Jokinen celebrates his winning goal to defeated the Blue Jackets, 3-1, in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Jussi Jokinen celebrates his winning goal to defeated the Blue Jackets, 3-1, in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff game Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Chris Kunitz gets knocked into the back of the net during the second period of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Chris Kunitz gets knocked into the back of the net during the second period of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Flerury makes a third-period save on the Blue Jackets' Matt Calvert in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Flerury makes a third-period save on the Blue Jackets' Matt Calvert in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Penguins celebrates Jussi Jokinen's winning goal in Game 5 of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins celebrates Jussi Jokinen's winning goal in Game 5 of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Chris Kunitz checks the Blue Jackets' Aartem Anisimov during the third period in Game 5 during first-round Stanley Cup action Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Chris Kunitz checks the Blue Jackets' Aartem Anisimov during the third period in Game 5 during first-round Stanley Cup action Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Kris Letang scores an empty-net goal next to the Blue Jackets' Jack Johnson during the third period in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Kris Letang scores an empty-net goal next to the Blue Jackets' Jack Johnson during the third period in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - The Penguins' Kris Letang celebrates his empty-net goal with Chris Kunitz and Paul Martin during the third period against the Blue Jackets in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Penguins' Kris Letang celebrates his empty-net goal with Chris Kunitz and Paul Martin during the third period against the Blue Jackets in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury makes a save on the Blue Jackets' Brandon Dubinsky during the third period of Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury makes a save on the Blue Jackets' Brandon Dubinsky during the third period of Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014, 10:03 p.m.
 

The word was not “pressure.” It was “expectation,” and it came from outside the dressing room.

So the Penguins finally decided to take on that taboo topic — Stanley Cup-or-bust — because they had too much to lose to let it possibly crush them.

With a 3-1 victory Saturday night at Consol Energy Center, the Penguins put playoff pressure on their upstart first-round opponent, the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Penguins lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 and can bounce the Blue Jackets with a win Monday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.

Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky faced 50 shots. He made 48 saves, but winger Jussi Jokinen's third series goal early in the third period broke a 1-1 tie.

The Penguins pulled even in the second period on winger Chris Kunitz's second goal, a power-play score that was one of 21 Penguins shots in the period — or only four fewer than their total from a Game 4 overtime loss.

“It was our intensity,” defenseman Paul Martin said. “We were strong on the boards. The way that we moved the puck, we managed that well. We didn't give opportunities to get in on the forecheck, and when we had the puck in their end, we held onto it and got it to the net.

“That was it, really.”

That was what liberation looked like in Game 5.

Indeed, the Penguins felt liberated entering this pivotal contest — Game 5 winners win 79 percent of series that are tied 2-2 — because they owned up to what defenseman Rob Scuderi described as “the burden of expectations.”

Five years ago, the Cup came back to Pittsburgh, and the then-young Penguins, led by centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, were ticketed for a dynastic run.

They have won three playoff series since, despite paying Crosby, Malkin and Fleury $115.75 million since the Cup win.

Though tied in the series with Columbus, coach Dan Bylsma said that Game 5 “(felt) like a response game.”

The response started two days earlier during off-day meetings with players.

“To be honest, I don't think we used the word pressure,” Bylsma said. “(We talked) more (about) expectations, outside perception, outside expectations on the group and bringing that to the rink.”

Bylsma said players — he declined to provide specifics — first addressed the subject.

One of those players was winger James Neal, who joined the Penguins in 2011 and was not part of their 2008 run to the Cup Final or their triumphant return the next season.

“We always have the expectation (to win), and it comes with the guys we have in our locker room,” Neal said. “I'm sure at times it's been harder for those guys, even before I got here.”

Those guys, Neal said, are Crosby and Malkin, the Penguins' former MVPs and multiple-time scoring champions. Neither has a goal against Columbus, nor has either scored since Round 2 against Ottawa last postseason. Crosby attempted 11 shots in Game 5, placing six on Bobrovsky. Malkin tried four, putting two on net.

Bylsma broke form and played Crosby and Malkin together at even strength, with Malkin moving to the right wing on the top line.

“They wanted to be together,” Bylsma said. “They wanted to go after it.”

So did Fleury, whose attempt to play a puck late in Game 4 led to Columbus' tying goal. The Blue Jackets won in overtime, and Fleury spent the next two days trying to shut out negativity from the outside world.

“That's the thing about the playoffs — everything gets magnified — and that's where pressure becomes a factor,” Martin said, noting Fleury's 42 saves in Game 4.

Fleury has not won a playoff series since 2010. With 23 saves in Game 5, he positioned himself for an enjoyable post-series handshake.

It's been a while for him, and it had been a while — since the Olympic break in February — since the Penguins felt as good about themselves as they did throughout Game 5, Crosby said.

“Especially in the second intermission,” Crosby said. “It felt like we were jumping and found the next level of our game. We just wanted to make sure we maintained that, didn't sit back and went after it.”

Actually, Martin said, the Penguins went after it the morning after Game 4. Whatever happened Saturday night was a manifestation of some tough talk.

“We had never really addressed it up until (that) point,” Martin said. “We just would play with the expectation we would be the team we had for the regular season, where we won games because someone eventually took over or found ways to win no matter who was in the lineup.

“We just figured something was eventually going to happen.”

Something did.

Under pressure, the Penguins put it on the Blue Jackets, and now a series is theirs for the taking.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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