“I was shocked there were any left. I don’t know what those people were doing by saving them,” Pittsburgh Penguins winger Bryan Rust joked about hats raining from the rafters after he completed the hat trick with an empty-netter to seal the Penguins 8-5 win over the San Jose Sharks.
Rust was the second Penguins winger to net a hat trick on Sunday. Approximately two minutes earlier, Evan Rodrigues netted his first career hat trick when he snapped a wrist shot from the right-wing circle to give the Penguins an insurmountable 7-5 lead.
The Penguins held on, despite nearly giving up a five-goal lead. Alls well that ends well.
It was a big day for the Penguins locker room. Rust had five points in his first game since Nov. 24. Rodrigues had a hat trick, Kris Letang and three assists, Jake Guentzel scored his first goal in his first game since Dec. 6, and Kasper Bjorkqvist played in his first NHL game, six years after the Penguins snagged him the second round of the 2016 NHL Draft (61st overall).
Bjorkqvist also scored his first NHL goal, but he put off checking his phone, which undoubtedly contains dozens of elated text messages from family and friends in his native Finland. After a severe knee surgery at the beginning of the 2019-20 season and being stuck in Finland last season, it’s been a journey for Bjorkqvist, but he didn’t yet roll through his phone.
No, Bjorkqvist had work to do after the game.