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Penguins moving on, finish off Blue Jackets

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Photographs by GENE J. PUSKAR / AP

Pittsburgh’s Scott Wilson (right), celebrates his goal with Trevor Daley during the third period in Game 5 of an NHL Eastern Conference playoff series against Columbus on Thursday. The Penguins pulled away to eliminate the Blue Jackets 5-2.

PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby and Scott Wilson scored 51 seconds apart in the third period, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins eliminate the Columbus Blue Jackets with a 5-2 victory in Game 5 of their NHL first-round series on Thursday night.

Bryan Rust scored twice for Pittsburgh, Phil Kessel added his second of the playoffs and Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 49 saves. The defending Stanley Cup champions will face the winner of the Toronto-Washington series in the conference semifinals starting next week.

William Karlsson and Boone Jenner scored for the Blue Jackets, but Sergei Bobrovsky stopped just 27 of 32 shots to finish a forgettable series.

Columbus trailed by three in the second period but had a potential tying goal waved off in the third for interference. Pittsburgh responded immediately. Crosby’s one-timer on the power play restored a twogoal lead and Wilson’s backhand less than a minute later finished off the Blue Jackets.

Columbus avoided being swept with a spirited 5-4 victory on Tuesday, extending the series by playing with the kind of desperation Pittsburgh Coach Mike Sullivan insisted his team needed if it wanted to get some rest before the second round.

It’s a refrain Sullivan has preached repeatedly over the last couple weeks and once again, the Penguins didn’t listen.

And once again, they were able to get away with it thanks to Fleury. He fended off 15 shots in the first period alone, several of them from pointblank range. It gave the Penguins time to find their legs, and Kessel’s wrist shot from the top of the circle 9:07 into the first put Pittsburgh in front.

When Rust scored twice less than three minutes apart early in the second — both of them on backhand rebounds — the Penguins appeared to be in control.

The Blue Jackets, trying to extend a breakthrough season that included a franchise-record 108 points and the sixthbest record in the league, showed one last flash. Karlsson and Jenner beat Fleury twice in 2:54 at the game’s midway point and Columbus was right back in it.

The surge ended when Fleury flopped to the ground after Alex Wenneberg clipped the goaltender as he fought off a check in the crease five minutes into the third. Columbus Coach John Tortorella and the rest of the Blue Jackets bench erupted in anger. Things only got worse for Columbus when Crosby powered a shot from just above the goal line by Bobrovsky. Wilson pushed the lead to three when he casually tapped a backhand by a woefully out of position Bobrovsky.

The Russian led the NHL in goals-against average (2.06) and save percentage (.931) during the regular season but couldn’t keep the league’s highest-scoring team in check.

RANGERS 3, CANADIENS 2 (OT)

MONTREAL — Mika Zibanejad scored at 14:22 of overtime to give the New York Rangers a victory over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 5 of their firstround playoff series.

Chris Kreider’s shot on a rush went off Alexei Emelin’s stick right to Zibanejad for a shot into an open side.

The Rangers grabbed a 3-2 lead in the series and will look to advance when they host Game 6 on Saturday.

Jesper Fast and Brady Skjei also scored for New York.

Artturi Lehkonen scored and set up a goal by Brendan Gallagher in the first period for Montreal.

PREDATORS 4, BLACKHAWKS 1

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Blackhawks’ season is over.

The Nashville Predators shocked the Hawks by sweeping them in the first round of the playoffs, with the clincher a victory in Game 4 at Bridgestone Arena. Pekka Rinne continued his domination in goal by making 30 saves to again lead his team to victory. Roman Josi scored two goals while Colton Sissons and Viktor Arvidsson each had a goal and an assist as the Preds shocked a Hawks team that finished atop the Western Conference and were the heavy favorites entering the series.

Jonathan Toews scored late in the third period for the Hawks but it wasn’t enough as they were swept in the postseason for the first time since 1993 when the Blues eliminated them. The Hawks managed just three goals in the series with two of them coming in Game 3.

Sports on 04/21/2017

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