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Penguins Room: Zucker Teases ‘Very Excited’ Rust, Pens Find Juice



Pittsburgh Penguins, Bryan Rust

The Pittsburgh Penguins room was in a much better mood than if the first 30 minutes of the game stood as the final. The Penguins were lackluster, if not flat, and trailed the New York Rangers 1-0 until later in the second period.

Then Evgeni Malkin scored a power-play goal.

Then Bryan Rust scored a power-play goal.

Immediately, the Penguins energy soared. They began to outskate and outwork New York en route to a 3-2 win at PPG Paints Arena.

In a flash, everything changed.

“Those two power plays were huge for us. They got big goals for us,” goalie Tristan Jarry noted. “Those get us in the game. It puts us ahead. And from then on, the guys were playing hard and getting pucks deep. I think that those two power plays are the game changer.”

By the middle of the second period, the Penguins had only 10 shots. They finished with 24 but scored three times, including the game-winner on a pretty play. All five Penguins touched the puck within seconds, and Sidney Crosby had a short breakaway.

Crosby slipped a backhand through New York goalie Igor Shesterkin for a 3-1 lead and the winner.

Pittsburgh Penguins Locker Room:

Bryan Rust had to be held back after scoring a power-play goal in the final seconds of the second period for a 2-1 lead. A moment after he deflected the puck into the cage, New York defenseman Ryan Lindgren leveled him with a hard cross-check.

Rust popped up and charged Lindgren before teammate Kasperi Kapanen intercepted him with a bear hug, and the celebration ensued.

“That felt nice. If you couldn’t tell, I was a little bit upset at the moment, but also very excited at the moment that I scored,” said Rust. “Hockey is a game of emotions, and they run high sometimes.

“(Kapanen catching me) was awesome. I didn’t really realize it until I saw the replay.”


Jason Zucker

The Penguins’ wingers, Rust and Zucker, have a great relationship. They are usually teasing each other or chirping others, their voices carrying across the room. Their lockers are close in the Penguins’ room, amplifying the back-and-forth.

Zucker was asked about Kapanen catching Rust before the Penguins took a penalty.

“I’m not sure what Rusty was doing there. The guy has fought his pillow about seven times in his career, and that’s about it. So it was just good to see him get that goal,” Zucker said with a little look over to Rust to ensure the chirp landed.


Kris Letang

The Penguins credited the pair of power-play goals, especially the first by Malkin, for sparking the team in what was previously a poor effort.

The win meant more than two points. It also leapfrogged the Penguins ahead of New York in the Metro Division and back into third place.

The Penguins’ seventh win in eight games ended New York’s seven-game winning streak.

The Penguins have begun watching the standings.

“I’m watching (the standings) every day,” said Letang. “That’s how tight it is. So you don’t want to — you see how we created a gap with that losing streak earlier this year? And you’re like, oh, shit…”

Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.