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Penguins eliminate Blue Jackets, advance to second round

Pittsburgh Penguins' Phil Kessel (81) celebrates his goal with Patric Hornqvist (72) and Sidney Crosby (87) during the first period in Game 5 of an NHL first-round hockey playoff series against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Pittsburgh, Thursday, April 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

PITTSBURGH — The puck fluttered into the net and the Columbus Blue Jackets thrust their arms into the air, certain they had tied the Pittsburgh Penguins early in the third period of Game 5 of their first-round playoff series.

One problem. They weren't the only ones with their arms up.

When an official waved off the goal and called Alex Wenneberg for interfering with Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, the Penguins still had the lead and — even better — a power play.

Two minutes later, Sidney Crosby put the Penguins up two. Just 51 seconds after that, Scott Wilson extended the advantage to three.

And just like that, the defending Stanley Cup champions were into the second round with a 5-2 victory Thursday night.

Pittsburgh will face the winner of the Toronto-Washington series in the conference semifinals starting next week.

"We had the opportunity last game to do it, and we didn't," Crosby said. "So it's just kind of a relief to win it."

Understandable considering the Penguins were faced with more than a few anxious moments after nearly letting a three-goal lead evaporate.

A series filled with wild momentum swings turned one last time when the tying score was nullified by the penalty, sending combustible Columbus coach John Tortorella into a rage. Crosby powered home a one-timer on the ensuing power play, and the Penguins were in control to stay.

"I am not talking about the play, stop trying and baiting me into it," Tortorella said. "There's no sense in me having a viewpoint on it. It happened."

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