COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Didn't see this one coming, but perhaps we should have.
A Penguins team that was playing its fourth game in six days, and second in as many nights, was playing its backup goalie, got outshot 37-23, got just one combined point from the trio of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, didn't even get a single power-play opportunity and, yet, still won, 5-2, Sunday night against the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
That's just how good the Penguins have been of late.
And truth be told, they found Sergei Bobrovsky in playoff form, putting three of their first four shots behind him.
The Blue Jackets goalie shouldn't feel too bad though. This was not the first team that the two-time defending champions have done this to and it doesn't look like it'll be the last.
[caption id="attachment_567651" align="aligncenter" width="400"]TAP ABOVE FOR BOXSCORE, STANDINGS, VIDEO[/caption]
Jake Guentzel recorded three points, Riley Sheahan scored twice, Zach Aston-Reese scored yet again and Tristan Jarry stopped 35 of 37 shots to earn his first win in over a month.
"I think Tristan was really good," Mike Sullivan said. "When you get a three-goal lead like we did early in the game, it’s a dangerous lead. As much as we’re pushing our guys to pay attention to the details and stay on top of it, you're fighting human nature there to a certain extent. And you have to give Columbus credit, they played hard all night long. They're a good team. They played hard, put us under pressure. I thought Tristan made some really timely saves. It was a much closer game. I thought some of our goals early on were a little opportunistic. But that's hockey."
And that's been the Penguins since the turn of the calendar. It was the Penguins' fifth win in a row and 10th in their last 12. And, oh, yes, they also moved into first place in the Metropolitan Division. Nope, didn't see that one coming back in December.
"It feels nice," Guentzel said of overtaking the Capitals, who still have two games in hand. "But we know there's a lot of season left. Obviously, it's going to be a grind. We're fighting for the playoffs."