Perhaps there was no better game for the Penguins in reaching the midpoint of the season than their 5-3 victory Sunday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

The Penguins had a rough patch, a comeback, a couple of quirky plays and big games from some of their stars. Their special teams made a huge difference. They won with some different combinations because of ongoing injury absences.

In other words, they figured out a way to blunt a tenacious opponent and snag two points, just as they have done many times this season.

"The one thing with our team, especially in the last 25 games, has been we've won as a team," coach Dan Bylsma said. "We've found ways to win. Different guys stepping up."

Against the Blue Jackets, right winger James Neal had five points on a hat trick and two assists. Center Sidney Crosby and left winger Chris Kunitz each had a goal and two assists. It's not a coincidence that those three mostly played together as an even-strength line and on the top power-play unit.

The Penguins' power play was 3 of 6, and their penalty-killers shut down Columbus all three tries.

"It's fun right now when you go out and you're winning," Kunitz said. "We want to duplicate that every time we go out."

They have been, to a large extent.

The Penguins have won nine of their past 10 games and 14 of their past 16.

They reach the midpoint of the season 29-11-1 and are running away with the Metropolitan Division. They are on pace for 118 points, which would be one shy of their franchise record of 119, set in 1992-93.