Pittsburgh Penguins advance to second round of NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

Pittsburgh Penguins advance to second round of NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

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Phill Ellsworth/ESPN Images(PITTSBURGH) — The Pittsburgh Penguins advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2 in Game 5 Thursday night.

The defending champs faced a Columbus team that surprised the hockey world by scoring a franchise-record 108 points this season, but the seven games series mostly fell in the Penguins’ favor.

It was capped on Thursday when Columbus nearly rallied back to tie the game at three after Pittsburgh took an early commanding lead. However, the game-tying goal was called off, and Penguins star Sidney Crosby secured the team’s fourth point to regain a comfortable lead for Pittsburgh.

Marc-Andre Fleury had 49 saves in his club-record 57th playoff win according to ESPN. He was supposed to be a backup in the series, but Matt Murray sustained a lower body injury before Game 1, and Fleury stepped up. Crosby called him “our best player.”

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said of the series, “It’s never perfect out there by any stretch. We love their compete level. We love their ability to respond to the adversity we face or the challenges we face throughout the course of a game, throughout the course of a series.”

Columbus head coach John Tortorella, who led the Blue Jackets to the playoffs for just the second time in the last eight seasons, told reporters after the loss, “I’m proud of our club. That’s not a 4-1 series. I’m not going to (complain) about it. They win.”

Pittsburgh will face the winner of the Toronto-Washington series in the conference semifinal.

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