Bryan Rust smiled when Pittsburgh Hockey Now asked the most basic and simple question of the Pittsburgh Penguins red-hot winger who has 12 goals in his first 19 games this season, including a pair of goals Saturday night in the Penguins 5-4 shootout win over the LA Kings at PPG Paints Arena.
Rust also scored the SO winner.
The basic question from Dan Kingerski on Saturday night was simply, “Is the game fun right now?”
As you may imagine for a player who has earned his way from Notre Dame through the Penguins minor league system, into the NHL as a bottom line grinder and now filling the Penguins net as an indispensable winger.
“Yeah, the game is fun right now. I’m just trying to take it in stride, and get better every day,” Rust said. “Things are going well.”
That would be an understatement. The Penguins are winning games without their top two centers, who are both generational talents. Their third line center is also injured and their top LW was pressed into duty as a pivot for the past two games, too.
And Rust keeps scoring. He had a pair of goals Saturday night, including the first two Penguins goals which tied the game 2-2. Rust also set up the Penguins go-ahead goal in the third period.
Rust is human, too. He had a couple of chances to win the game in overtime including on a breakaway but LA goalie Jonathan Quick made the save.
“I was just trying to get a quick shot off on the breakaway,” Rust said. “Then I was just waiting behind the net while the puck was loose. I saw (Blueger) was going to get there first, and Quick made a really nice save.”
Bryan Rust has earned his place on the Penguins top line. From his OT winner on Thursday night for a 1-0 win over Columbus to two goals and the shootout winner on Saturday night. The Penguins speedy winger should be having a lot of fun.
On Monday, Rust tried to downplay his current run when he told PHN one secret is, “just don’t think about it.”
On Wednesday, head coach Mike Sullivan heaped praise upon Rust as a vital piece of the Penguins lineup because he can play in any and all situations, and the coaching staff uses him that way because “we know he can handle it.
It wasn’t more than a couple of months ago that Rust’s name was bubbling in the NHL rumor mill as a potential chip for GM Jim Rutherford. Such talk now seems silly. “That’s just a character win,” Rust said of the Saturday night.