Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Key Goal: Ousting Columbus in Game 5 Penguins Cast Eyes on Clincher at Home

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Key Goal: Ousting Columbus in Game 5 Penguins Cast Eyes on Clincher at Home

Article excerpt

The Penguins would have preferred not to play a hockey game Thursday night.

They would have liked to close their first-round series in Columbus Tuesday night in Game 4.

But since the Blue Jackets took that one to cut the Penguins' series lead to 3-1, the teams will reconvene at 7 p.m. Thursday at PPG Paints Arena. The Penguins are happy to be returning home and have no desire to go back to Columbus for a potential Game 6.

"It's huge," goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. "The fourth one is always the toughest to get. To be back home and have a chance to do it is big. We've had a lot of success at home."

Fleury's not lying. The Penguins' 66 points at home this season tied Washington for the most in the NHL.

Last year, they went 9-4 on home ice in their run to the Stanley Cup and finished their first three series in Pittsburgh.

"That's going to be huge for us," winger Patric Hornqvist said. "It's always fun to play in front of our home fans. They've been really loud here in playoffs. We're all looking forward to tomorrow and putting the last game behind us."

The Penguins are hoping a return home will help in one specific area. The Blue Jackets have outshot the Penguins by a combined 56-27 (14-6.75, on average) in the first period of Games 1 through 4.

In the first three games, the Penguins were able to weather the storm and take control of the game in its latter stages, but that doesn't mean they necessarily want to stick to that plan.

"We'd like to get a better start, I think I've said that a couple of times," coach Mike Sullivan said. "Certainly, we've got to act on it. I think it's about being ready from the drop of the puck. It's a mindset. It's not a wait-and-see approach. I think we've got to be ready to dictate the terms from the very first puck drop. If we do that, then we can grab hold of the momentum. …

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