- Associated Press - Saturday, April 26, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma wanted to send a message to his team, putting Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin exclusively on the same line.

Consider it received.

Attacking on offense early and often, the Penguins topped the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 on Saturday night as Jussi Jokinen scored the go-ahead goal in the third period to help give Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference playoff series.

Pittsburgh peppered Sergei Bobrovsky with 50 shots on goal, keeping the Blue Jackets goalie busy all night.

“We competed hard,” Crosby said. “We played desperate and really aggressive. That’s the game we have to play. It’s not always going to result in 50 shots, but it’s our style of play.”

Chris Kunitz had a power-play goal and Kris Letang scored into an empty net for Pittsburgh, which has the upstart Blue Jackets on the verge of elimination with an opportunity to close out the series Monday during Game 6 in Columbus.

“Their coach challenged them and they responded,” Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. “Now, we have to do the same thing on Monday.”

It hasn’t been easy for the Penguins, a team considered by many a Stanley Cup contender. Columbus, which began the series searching for its first playoff win in franchise history, twice rallied to stun the heavily favored Penguins and outshot Pittsburgh three of the previous four games this series.

Boone Jenner scored the lone goal for Columbus, which played its first Game 5 in franchise history.

“I don’t think anybody in this room would say they’re uncomfortable going into the next game,” Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen said. “Like we’ve been saying, all the guys, we believe we can get this done.”

Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury recovered from a game-changing gaffe in Game 4 for the victory on Saturday, making 23 saves. Fleury is 4-1 in his last five games after a playoff overtime loss.

“He was solid,” Crosby said. “He showed his experience tonight.”

Bobrovsky stopped 48 shots for the Blue Jackets.

“They were going to the net hard and obviously it was something they talked about, to make it hard on Bobrovsky,” Richards said. “It’s how they wanted to play the game.”

Crosby and Malkin, despite playing on the same line and combining for eight shots, still haven’t scored through five playoff games, but the message was sent.

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