Sid & the Kids line tallies 2 goals as Penguins take 2-0 series lead
It was the hottest line combination the Penguins put together all season, and it was quiet during the playoff opener earlier in the week.
For the Columbus Blue Jackets, that turned out to be bad news.
A storm was coming, and when it hit, it hit with a fury.
Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel and Conor Sheary combined to score a pair of goals, and the Penguins blew past Columbus, 4-1, in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal matchup Friday night to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Game 3 is Sunday in Columbus.
"They're so elusive," coach Mike Sullivan said. "They're hard to defend. When they're in that offensive zone, they're as dangerous a line as there is in the game right now."
Lasers cross the ice before the start of the Penguins' Eastern Conference quarterfinals Game 2 against the Blue Jackets on Friday April 14, 2017 at PPG Arena. For more images from Game 2, visit the Trib's photo gallery .
Photo by Christian Tyler Randolph
Crosby, Guentzel and Sheary were first put together when the Penguins were losing 3-0 during a March 5 game against Buffalo. They roared back to win that game 4-3 then terrorized the league the rest of the regular season.
In the 14 games they played together down the stretch, they combined for 24 goals and 54 points.
In Game 1 against Columbus, however, they combined for no points and four shots.
"I think both teams were maybe feeling out the series a bit, playing tight defense," Sheary said.
Sheary put an end to that about eight minutes into the first period of Game 2.
Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was playing a puck behind the net when Sheary descended on him like a mosquito on a summer night, forcing a turnover and shuffling a pass to Guentzel in front. Guentzel kicked the puck to his blade and centered to Crosby for a slam dunk.
The line's second goal was even more important.
Pine-Richland product Brandon Saad ripped a shot from the left wing past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to forge a 1-1 tie seven minutes into the second period. The Blue Jackets had life.
For 51 seconds.
After Ian Cole banked an outlet pass off the boards, Crosby fed Guentzel for a goal on a two-on-one. The Penguins had the lead for good.
"I'm trying to keep up with them, for the most part," Crosby said with a laugh. "They're pretty fast, and they've got a lot of skill."
"He's not giving himself enough credit," Sheary replied. "He's just as fast if not faster than both of us. He can make plays all over the ice."
Beyond the contributions of Crosby's line, the Penguins took a stranglehold of the series by keeping Columbus out of high-danger scoring areas, getting great goaltending from Fleury and avoiding extracurricular activities the Blue Jackets might want to engage in.
The Blue Jackets outshot the Penguins for the second straight game, taking a 40-32 advantage this time, but they again spent much of their offensive-zone time on the perimeter.
Coach John Tortorella was generally complimentary of his team, even if he knows that aspect of their game must improve.
"I thought everybody in our lineup played their (rear end) off tonight," Tortorella said. "I thought we did a lot of the things we wanted to do."
When the Blue Jackets did penetrate the center of the ice, Fleury was brilliant, especially in the first period. He has stopped 70 of the 72 shots he's faced in the series.
"He made some good saves off deflections that aren't easy," Crosby said.
The Penguins also handled any rough stuff the Blue Jackets wanted to engage in without many problems. When Brandon Dubinsky got in a scuffle with Cole late in the second period, Evgeni Malkin scored one second after the power play ended in the third.
When Matt Calvery broke his stick on Tom Kuhnhackl's back with a cross-check late in the game, the Penguins winger shrugged it off.
"The referees are going to do their job," Sullivan said. "We're going to do ours."
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.