PITTSBURGH (AP) — Sidney Crosby is used to the attention. It comes with the territory when you're the best hockey player in the world.
Still, the Pittsburgh Penguins star knows the spotlight becomes more acute in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Shaded by Columbus forward Brandon Dubinsky for much of his 19 minutes of ice time in Pittsburgh's 4-3 victory in Game 1, Crosby finished with a secondary assist on Matt Niskanen's tying power-play goal in the second period, a minus-2 rating and the usual bumps and bruises that are part of the job description this time of year.
"I think guys go the extra stride or two to finish their hit," the NHL's leading scorer said Friday. "The after-the-whistle stuff, you look for it more."
The Penguins didn't need Crosby to be spectacular to deny Columbus the first playoff win in franchise history. That's a good thing, because the intensity will likely ramp up in Game 2 on Saturday night.
Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger will play after missing the last two weeks with an upper body injury. One of the few veterans who played in the team's previous playoff trip in 2009, Umberger's physical presence will only exacerbate the stylistic differences between the teams.
Columbus held a 47-28 advantage in hits in the opener, rattling the Penguins a bit while taking a two-goal lead early in the second period.
"In a playoff series you've got to do that, you've got to target their better players and make it uncomfortable for them," Umberger said. "You're going out there running around trying to kill them, but you've got to make it uncomfortable."
Five things to look for as the Penguins try to squash the growing optimism in the Blue Jackets dressing room by taking a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.
STEADY FLOWER: Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury might be the most scrutinized player in the entire Stanley Cup playoffs after two straight springs ended in postseason meltdowns. He gave up three goals in the first 21 minutes on Wednesday night, scores that were largely the part of egregious breakdowns in front of him.
Fleury was lights out after the Penguins tied it, his ever-present smile a sign he has no plans on letting every bump in the road get to him. At least, not yet.
"He had to respond in that game and he did that and it's just one game and one response from our team and from Marc," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "The question is going to be there through every game."