Nine wins in a row. It was a swift and decisive two-goal swing for the Pittsburgh Penguins (19-8-5) later in the third period. Trailing 3-2 with under 10 minutes remaining, Sidney Crosby scored the tying goal as he zipped past defenders and St. Louis Blues goalie Jordan Binnington for a clean rebound poke. St. Louis coach Craig Berube unsuccessfully challenged (Crosby was clearly outside the crease), and just 12 seconds later, Evan Rodrigues blistered a one-timer from the left-wing circle for a 4-3 lead and 5-3 win over St. Louis at PPG Paints Arena on Wednesday night.
The Penguins rallied in the latter half of the second period, but some shaky goaltending by Penguins backup Casey DeSmith spotted St. Louis an extra marker. Trailing 2-0, the Penguins Evan Rodrigues slipped past a defenseman for a scoring chance, then went back to the net for a rebound, where he drew a penalty.
The 4v4 play (Sidney Crosby, Nikko Mikkola slashing) became a 4v3 Penguins power play. Bryan Rust (6), who is making up for lost time after missing 18 games with a pair of lower-body injuries, knocked his own rebound out of the air past St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington. The Penguins tally closed the gap to 2-1.
However, just 19 seconds later, St. Louis again burned DeSmith with a long wrister from beyond 35 feet. Colton Parayko beat DeSmith from the high slot, 3-1. That was the end of the night for DeSmith, as Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan went to the bench for Tristan Jarry, who was cleared from COVID protocol sometime Tuesday or Wednesday morning.
Less than two minutes after St. Louis scored, Rust scored again.
The Penguins top line with Crosby and Jake Guentzel had a three-on-two rush. Crosby’s cross-ice pas connected cleanly with Rust (7), who snapped it past Binnington from the right circle.
Rust has five goals in two games.
Sidney Crosby capped another multi-point game by scoring the tying goal at 12:23 of the third period. Crosby, Guentzel, and Kris Letang had two-point games. Rust (2-1-3) had a trio of points.
Brock McGinn (9) scored from the doorstep with 99 seconds remaining to seal the deal.
Vladimir Tarasenko had a little temper tantrum after the goal and was given a 10-minute misconduct.
The Pittsburgh Penguins Deficit
Just 20 seconds into the second period, St. Louis cracked the ice beneath the Penguins. After Bryan Rust took an interference penalty at the end of the first period, St. Louis began the second period on a power play. Brayden Schenn (5) beat Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith with a high wrister from nearly 40 feet away in the right circle. 1-0.
It was just the eighth power-play goal allowed by the Penguins this season, but the second in two games.
Midway through the second period, the Pittsburgh Penguins top line again brought the crowd to their feet with a long shift in the offensive zone. However, everyone was gassed, and neither Kris Letang nor Jake Guentzel tracked Jordan Kyrou back to the offensive zone. Kyrou had no trouble whipping a wrister past DeSmith from hash marks. 2-0.
The Penguin ended the latter half of the first period by taking 10 of the last 12 shots on goal. None beat Binnington or were that close, though the Penguins did get some good looks. Sidney Crosby had a two-on-one with Rust on the first shift and found space in the offensive zone but just missed Rust on the rush and just missed him again by the net later in the period.
Binnington stopped all 14 shots in the first period. Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith stopped the seven shots he faced, too. Kris Letang had five shots in the first period.
Jarry made a few key saves immediately upon entering. He stopped all 13 shots he faced and improved his record to 16-5-4.
The Penguins begin a six-game road trip Thursday night against the Philadelphia Flyers.