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5 Keys: Blue Jackets at Penguins, Game 2

Columbus must generate traffic in front of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who starts second straight game

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets each face a few questions entering Game 2 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at PPG Paints Arena on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports 2, ROOT, FS-O).

The Penguins have a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series after their 3-1 win in Game 1 on Wednesday, but their goaltending situation isn't as stable as they would like. After scoring once in the series opener, the Blue Jackets are prepared to make a few adjustments without overhauling their approach.

Here are 5 keys for Game 2:

 

1. Fleury starts again

On Wednesday, the Penguins thought they would enter the series with goalie Matt Murray starting. That changed when he sustained a lower-body injury during warmups.

Marc-Andre Fleury performed admirably in a surprise start, making 31 saves for his first playoff win since April 18, 2015, against the New York Rangers. Without a definitive timetable for Murray's return, the Penguins will again lean on Fleury in Game 2 with 21-year-old rookie Tristan Jarry dressing as his backup.

"We've all had confidence in [Fleury] since the day I got here," defenseman Brian Dumoulin said. "We know how calm he is. He's been in this situation before."

Video: The performance tonight of Mark-Andre Fleury

 

2. More traffic

Outside of an eight-minute stretch in the second period, the Blue Jackets thought they played well throughout Game 1, particularly in the first period when they outshot the Penguins 16-3. They were disappointed in just one facet of their game.

Columbus struggled to create traffic around Fleury, which allowed him to make relatively simple saves. That could change Friday; the Blue Jackets spent a large portion of their practice Thursday looking for rebounds after shooting off their goaltenders' pads.

"I think there's a willingness, and a level of willingness, that needs to be more consistent through the game," coach John Tortorella said.

 

3. Phil's skills shining

Penguins forward Phil Kessel was arguably the most effective offensive performer in Game 1. He had two points (one goal, one assist) and could have had one more if goalie Sergei Bobrovsky hadn't made a sprawling blocker save on his breakaway in the second period.

Kessel has 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists) in 25 playoff games with Pittsburgh. If he continues at that pace, he could have the Blue Jackets on their heels again Friday.

"He's such a skilled player," said forward Bryan Rust, who plays left wing on Kessel's line. "He can make so many good plays with the puck … He's always a threat."

Video: CBJ@PIT, Gm1: Kessel picks the corner for PPG

 

4. Saad's missing scoring touch

Blue Jackets forward (and Pittsburgh native) Brandon Saad was benched early in the third period of Game 1. After committing a turnover, he sat for the final 14:17 with the Blue Jackets trailing 3-0.

Saad, who was third on the Blue Jackets with 53 points (24 goals, 29 assists) during the regular season, returned to the top line with center Alexander Wennberg and right wing Nick Foligno during practice Thursday. He has been held without a point in 11 of his past 15 games.

If Columbus hopes to take Game 2, they'll likely need Saad to find his scoring touch.

 

5. Bounce-back for Bobrovsky?

Bobrovsky has allowed 16 goals while losing each of his past five starts (0-5-0), including Game 1. He was 41-17-5 in the regular season, but is 2-7 with a 3.46 goals-against average and .890 save percentage in 14 career playoff appearances.

Despite his lack of playoff success and recent struggles, the Blue Jackets haven't lost any faith in Bobrovsky over the past two weeks.

"We think [Bobrovsky is] the best goalie in the League," Columbus defenseman Scott Harrington said. "Our confidence hasn't wavered at any point this year. … He's stolen a lot of games this year. We're confident that he can get the job done."

Video: CBJ@PIT, Gm1: Bobrovsky lunges for a terrific save

 
Blue Jackets projected lineup

Brandon Saad -- Alexander Wennberg -- Nick Foligno

Boone Jenner -- Brandon Dubinsky -- Cam Atkinson

Scott Hartnell -- Sam Gagner -- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Matt Calvert -- William Karlsson -- Josh Anderson

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Jack Johnson -- David Savard

Scott Harrington -- Gabriel Carlsson

Sergei Bobrovsky

Joonas Korpisalo

Scratched: Lauri Korpikoski, Kyle Quincey, Markus Nutivaara, Oscar Dansk

Injured: David Clarkson (back), Ryan Murray (hand), Lukas Sedlak (upper body)

 

Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel -- Sidney Crosby -- Conor Sheary

Bryan Rust -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel

Scott Wilson -- Nick Bonino -- Patric Hornqvist

Tom Kuhnhackl -- Matt Cullen -- Carter Rowney

Brian Dumoulin -- Ron Hainsey

Ian Cole -- Justin Schultz

Olli Maatta -- Trevor Daley

Marc-Andre Fleury

Tristan Jarry

Scratched: Cameron Gaunce, Josh Archibald, Mark Streit, Tom Sestito

Injured : Matt Murray (lower body), Kris Letang (upper body), Carl Hagelin (lower body), Chris Kunitz (lower body), Chad Ruhwedel (upper body)

 

Status report

Werenski took a maintenance day Thursday after returning from an upper-body injury Wednesday. He should play in Game 2. … Rust and Daley each participated in Pittsburgh's optional morning skate after taking a maintenance day Thursday. They are expected to play.

 

Who's hot

Calvert scored the Blue Jackets' only goal in Game 1. He has three points (two goals, one assist) in his past two games. … Before being held without a point in Game 1, Guentzel had scored one goal in each of his previous five games. He has 12 points (six goals, six assists) in his past nine games.

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