It took 63 minutes for the Pittsburgh Penguins to score against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Penguins were dealt yet another absence as top center Evgeni Malkin missed the game due to injury. However, the Penguins squeezed Columbus and allowed only 17 shots. Eventually, Bryan Rust scored an overtime power-play goal for the Penguins 1-0 win Thursday at PPG Paints Arena.
It was the Penguins 32nd shot of the game. Without Malkin, who missed the game due to illness, the Penguins were forced to use their top LW, Jake Guentzel as the top-line center.
“I don’t know if (fate) hates us, it’s definitely testing us. We’ve done a pretty good job of rising to the occasion,” Rust said.
Rust began the season on IR after blocking a shot in the final preseason game. Since Rust returned to the lineup on Oct. 26, he has 10 goals in 18 games, which is beyond a 40-goal per season pace. Head coach Mike Sullivan has noticed, too.
“Offensively, I think he has more confidence than he’s ever had. He’s really seeing it,” Sullivan said of Rust. “I think he’s got some chemistry now with (Guentzel). And his speed is just so influential.”
Rust has played up and down the Penguins lineup but has settled in whatever constitutes the Penguins top line, whether it is with Sidney Crosby, Malkin, or Guentzel, Rust has scored. And continues to score.
Last season, Rust had an explosive six week period after scoring one goal in his first 29 games. Then he cooled again. He made consistency a key this season. In a one-on-one chat on Monday, Rust told PHN one trick to keep scoring.
“Try not to think about it,” he laughed.
This season, Bryan Rust has lit the lamp more often than Malkin and is the Penguins third-leading scorer with 19 points (10g, 9a) in just 18 games.