It looks as if top-six winger Bryan Rust has a strong chance to return Tuesday against the Washington Capitals.
At the Pittsburgh Penguins’ full morning skate at PPG Paints Arena after the team had a day off Monday, Rust was again a full participant and, this time, skated on the second line with Evgeni Malkin and Reilly Smith.
“We’ll see how he responds after the skate,” said coach Mike Sullivan. “I suspect he’ll be a game-time decision.”
The signs point to a return.
Rust was the first skater on the ice for the workout, and when he stepped on the ice, he raised his hand as if to signal he was back. However, Rust later took the opportunity to have some fun with the media. He played coy when he spoke around 11 a.m.
“We’ll see in about eight-and-a-half hours,” Rust said with a little grin.
He also skated on the Penguins’ second power-play unit.
The puck drops just after 7:30 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena. And lest you think it’s only seven-and-half hours until warmup, Rust conceded before quickly correcting Pittsburgh Hockey Now, “Some guys leave after warmup.”
The Penguins have won seven of their last nine games and have points in eight.
Rust has not played since Dec. 6 as he has dealt with an upper-body injury. He is eligible to be activated from LTIR today, and that would need to happen before game time for him to be in the lineup against the visiting Washington Capitals.
He has 10 goals and 20 points in 22 games.
The Penguins’ lines at the skate looked like this:
Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Rickard Rakell
Reilly Smith-Evgeni Malkin-Bryan Rust
Drew O’Connor-Lars Eller-Valtteri Puustinen
Jansen Harkins-Noel Acciari-Jeff Carter
Marcus Pettersson-Kris Letang
Ryan Graves-Erik Karlsson
John Ludvig-Chad Ruhwedel