PITTSBURGH - Often times, time itself applies the best type of pressure.
With seven preseason games in the books and a well-rounded performance yet to be found, the Blue Jackets arrived at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh with one more opportunity to fine-tune before opening night.
In many respects, they seized that opportunity.
Oliver Bjorkstrand scored twice (well, kind of?) to pace the Blue Jackets offensively, and in goal, Sergei Bobrovsky kept his team in the game until they commanded the game with a dominant second period in a 5-3 victory.
Columbus was overwhelmingly the better team in 5-on-5 play, garnering nearly 62 percent of all shot attempts and spending minimal time chasing pucks in its own end. The second period was the highlight, no doubt, as the Blue Jackets held a 20-5 shot advantage in the frame and at times looked overwhelming.
They skated, they made plays, and when they didn't have the puck, they worked to get it back.
All in all, there was encouraging signs on multiple fronts.
"It's only preseason," said defenseman Ryan Murray. "But I thought we played a real solid game today."
Bjorkstrand's two goals came in the first period, the first on the power play to finish off a sharp pass from Alexander Wennberg. Bjorkstrand didn't get all of it - in fact, his skate got most of it - but the puck slid through Marc-Andre Fleury's five hole for an early lead.
"A little puck luck, I guess," Bjorkstrand said.
Oddly enough, his second goal was perhaps more fortunate. Later in the period, he banked a shot from the goal line off Fleury and in…or so everyone thought. The goal was counted, the game continued, but it was discovered later that the puck entered through a hole in the side of the net.
There are no booth-initiated video reviews in the preseason and the Penguins had already used their challenge, so play went on.
After two quick Pittsburgh goals in the second period to bring the game even at 2-2, Brandon Saad broke the tie by cashing in a great pass from Sam Gagner behind the net.
Then it was the Jenner-Dubinsky-Atkinson line going to work, forcing a turnover in the offensive zone and executing a 3-on-1 from the face-off circle. Boone Jenner swatted a pass from Dubinsky out of the air and behind Fleury for a 4-2 lead.
Matt Calvert re-directed a David Savard shot quickly after Pittsburgh had pulled to 4-3, restoring a two-goal lead that would prove to be the final margin.