In fairness, the Pittsburgh Penguins played with only 10 forwards for most of the game, and the New York Islanders have been playing much better over the past couple of months. The Penguins also missed Evgeni Malkin in their 5-4 SO loss to the Islanders on Tuesday night at UBS Arena. The loss meant they failed to clinch the organization’s 16th consecutive playoff berth.
Now that we’ve offered the excuses, let’s get to the actual game.
The Penguins are indeed a different team without Bryan Rust. Even more so without Rust than without Malkin? Rust left the game after two shifts due to illness. Midway through the game, Evan Rodrigues also headed for the infirmary. Those clamoring to see winger Rickard Rakell with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel got their wish in the ensuing shuffle.
Rakell didn’t disappoint, either. He dished a pair of assists on a pair of Jake Guentzel goals.
“I thought they were really good. You know, it’s something we’ve been talking about for a while…I thought they were really good. Jake gets a couple of goals. That line was a threat all night,” Sullivan said.
The Penguins didn’t lack for offense. They fired 47 shots toward Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin and had 35 scoring chances. That’s typically a healthy game, especially against the tight screws known as the New York Islanders.
However, in the Penguins’ effort, the good and bad, the ominous and optimistic, roared.