PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby was asked late in the season whether he liked the nickname that had been catching on for his new but cohesive line combination -- the Sid and the Kids Line.
The Pittsburgh Penguins captain reacted tepidly.
Call it what you want. When Crosby, the 29-year-old veteran center considered one of the top players of his generation, is clicking with second-year winger Conor Sheary and rookie winger Jake Guentzel, opponents struggle to slow them.
On Friday, Crosby had a goal and two assists, Guentzel added a goal and an assist and Sheary provided a heads-up assist as Pittsburgh beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 to seize a 2-0 lead in a first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
Game 3 is Sunday in Columbus.
"Obviously, Sid played at another level tonight, so that makes us that much better," Guentzel said.
Columbus, which got its lone goal from Brandon Saad for a short-lived 1-1 tie, attempted 79 shots, 40 of which got through to Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. He stopped 39 of them.
Fleury, who stepped in when Matt Murray got hurt during the warmup before Game 1, has 71 saves through the first two games of the series.
"He was solid," Crosby said of Fleury. "They get a lot of traffic, they get some point shots and some guys who can get it through. He has to battle through bodies and deflections and things like that. He made some good saves off deflections that aren't easy."
The Crosby line was held without a point Wednesday in a 3-1 Penguins' win. There wasn't much the Blue Jackets could do to stop that line in Game 2. Asked about his young wingers keeping up with him, Crosby, the Rocket Richard Trophy winner during the season with 44 goals, turned the conversation 180 degrees.
"I mean, I'm trying to keep up with them for the most part," Crosby said. "They're pretty fast. They've got a lot of skill. We're just trying to read off each other. This time of year there's not a lot of time and space, but tonight we were able to get a number of chances."
The Blue Jackets got the first eight shots of the game, but Pittsburgh scored on its first shot, thanks to keen forechecking by Sheary.
Sheary took the puck from Sergei Bobrovsky behind the net, causing the Columbus goaltender to scramble back to his crease. Sheary sent the puck out front to the bottom of the left circle for Guentzel, who kicked the puck from his skate to his stick and fed Crosby near the right post at 8:31 of the first.
"I just saw he didn't have many options," Sheary said of Bobrovsky, who finished with 28 saves. "Their (defensemen) were kind of slow getting back and he had his back turned to me, so I thought if I could get on him quick he'd have to make a quick decision. He eventually just held onto it and I was able to create a turnover."
Saad, a native of suburban Pittsburgh who was benched for most of the third period in Game 1, tied it in the second. Off the rush, Saad blasted a shot from the left dot into the far top corner to make it 1-1.
Guentzel restored the Penguins' lead at 2-1 just 51 seconds later. Working a two-on-one with Crosby, he one-timed a pass from the Penguins' captain past Bobrovsky's left skate.
"I thought we answered really well," Columbus captain Nick Foligno said. "(Saad) scores a big goal and they come back down and score one. That's playoff hockey. That's the way it is. It's a 2-1 game for a long time there and we just have to find a way."
Columbus outshot and outhit (51-30) Pittsburgh, to no avail.
"I thought everybody in our lineup played their (butt) off tonight," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "We did a lot of things we wanted to do.
"I don't have one (complaint) about the team. Not one. I'm anxious to get our suits on and play again, in our building."
NOTES: The teams dressed the same lineups as in Game 1. ... G Marc-Andre Fleury, who started for Pittsburgh, moved ahead of G Tom Barrasso for the all-time club record for postseason appearances (102). ... Columbus C Lukas Sedlak (upper body injury) has begun skating. ... The Penguins held a pregame moment of silence and players wore special decals on their helmets in honor of Pittsburgh Steelers chairman, former United States ambassador to Ireland and community icon Dan Rooney. He died Thursday at age 84. ... The start time for Game 5 in Pittsburgh, if necessary, has been set for 7 p.m.