Despite an early Sunday start, the Pittsburgh Penguins came to play as they scored eight goals in the victory over the San Jose Sharks. It was a game of firsts as Evan Rodrigues picked up his first career NHL hat trick and rookie Kasper Bjorkvist netted his first career NHL goal.
Rodrigues, who was just activated out of COVID-19 protocol, made his presence known just over a minute in.
His 11th of the season showed off his patience, as on a rush he took the time and space given to him, as he cut to the middle and waited patiently before he beat San Jose netminder James Reimer blocker side.
His second of the game and 12th of the season gave the Penguins a 3-0 lead, just over four minutes into the contest.
A quick pass by Danton Heinen found Rodrigues all alone in front of Reimer, as a quick backhand gave him his second of the game, 12th of the season, and the Penguins a 3-0 lead.
As San Jose stormed back in the third, Rodrigues picked up his 13th of the season and third of the contest as he gave the Penguins a 7-5 lead with just around three minutes to go in the third period.
While on the power play, Rodrigues let a shot go from the top of the left circle that beat San Jose netminder Zach Sawchenko through a screen.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 2, 2022
Not to be overlooked by the big offensive performances of Rodrigues and Rust, Bjorkqvist tallied the Penguins’ fifth goal of the game and his first in the NHL.
With under four minutes to play in period one, Pittsburgh forward Radim Zohorna fed the puck in the low slot from behind the San Jose net as finished off the play for his first career NHL goal in his first career NHL game.
Bjorkqvist was able to sneak the puck five-hole on Reimer to give Pittsburgh a 5-1 lead.