Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Scoring Touch Returns Rust Rediscovers Offensive Skills

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Scoring Touch Returns Rust Rediscovers Offensive Skills

Article excerpt

The moment Bryan Rust likely will stew over from the Penguins' 5-2 win Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks occurred late in the third period, when he had the chance to complete a hat trick.

Rust fired the puck, knew it probably wasn't going to go where he wanted it to go, but still tried in vain anyway.

Clank. Crossbar.

"As soon as it left my stick, I was like, 'Oh, please stay down.'" Rust said. "And it didn't.

"I don't think I'm going to hear the end of that one for a while."

Teammates likely will give Rust some good-natured grief over that one - fans threw hats on the PPG Paints Arena ice, for crying out loud - but what he has been doing lately should make the ribbing easier to take.

In three games since returning from an upper-body injury, Rust has been terrific.

Rust had a season-high three points against San Jose, his first multipoint effort of the season, and literally came within inches of his first hat trick since Dec. 5, 2016, against Ottawa.

"He deserved the hat trick there," Matt Murray said. "I felt bad for him. That was probably his best game all year. He knows that. He's a huge player for us. He showed up big tonight."

What Rust has brought has been something the Penguins have really needed - legitimate offense from the fourth line.He, Jean-Sebastien Dea and Tom Kuhnhackl have been terrific together, as evidenced by Rust's second goal.Kuhnhackl flicked a Sidney Crosby-like pass between his legs - on the backhand, no less - and Rust had no problem with the finish.

"Unbelievable," Rust said of the highlight-reel feed. "As soon as he got it on his stick, I knew I was by myself. I was screaming as loud as I could. He's a skilled player. I'm not surprised."

"I'm just glad it went through," Kuhnhackl said. "He's a goal-scorer there."

Rust wasn't a goal-scorer earlier this season.

Although he was injured, Rust produced just four goals in his first 40 games this season compared to 11 through that many in 2016-17.

"There were a stretch of games this year where I might not have been playing as well as I would have liked," Rust said. "Kind of was fighting it a little bit. I guess being hurt [he missed 11 games with an upper-body injury] gave me a chance to reset just a little bit. …

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