William Karlsson scored a much-needed goal early in the third period Tuesday night, but his biggest contribution to the Blue Jackets’ life-preserving win over Pittsburgh started well before the final frame.

Karlsson centered a line — with scrappy Matt Calvert on his left and locomotive Josh Anderson to his right — that pulled the plug on Sidney Crosby and the Penguins’ top line, allowing the Blue Jackets to survive a wild affair 5-4 before a sold out crowd of 19,093 at Nationwide Arena.

 The Blue Jackets are still on the brink of elimination, but the series — led by Pittsburgh 3-1 — heads back to the Steel City for Game 5 on Thursday.

“We have nothing to lose,” Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson said. “We’re still down. We’re still crawling back into this. But it’s huge for us to get momentum. A lot of guys contributed, so feel good about this, get ready to work (today) and we’ll head to Pitt. Just play our game and we’ll have success.”

Karlsson, Boone Jenner and Markus Nutivaara each had a goal and an assist, while Jack Johnson and Anderson each had a goal and Brandon Saad had two assists.

The Blue Jackets put veteran Kyle Quincey and the rookie Nutivaara in the lineup for the first time and played their most controlled defensive game yet.