Wednesday June 1st, 2016

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Bryan Rust took part in Pittsburgh's morning skate on Wednesday, but Penguins coach Mike Sullivan wasn't ready to pronounce the injured rookie forward available for Game 2.

"He obviously skated this morning," Sullivan said. "He'll be a game-time decision."

If the rookie winger can't go, it would be a serious blow to the Pens. Rust has been the team's hottest shooter of late, tallying four times in his past three games. He broke the ice in Pittsburgh's 3–2 win over San Jose in Game 1, but didn't finish the contest after being checked in the head by Sharks forward Patrick Marleau.

Sullivan highlighted Rust's importance during his pre-game briefing, praising his skating ability and tenacity on the puck— the two elements that have defined his team's success to this point in the playoffs.

Despite health scares, Penguins’ Maatta’s work ethic strong as ever

"When you think of those attributes, it all adds up to someone that has the potential to score," Sullivan said. "He's a guy that we have viewed all season long as someone that can help us generate offense. Whether he's scoring himself or he's creating opportunities for his linemates through his foot speed, forcing turnovers and things of that nature.

"His compete level, his willingness to go to the net ... when you go to the net, good things usually happen. He scores a goal in the last game because he goes to the net."

Sullivan touched on several other key topics ahead of Game 2. Here are the highlights:

On Evgeni Malkin scoring just one goal in his past 13 games

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"I think Geno is playing well for us. He's generating scoring chances. That's the thing we watch most is his scoring chance involvement, his primary chances. He's been involved in a fair number of chances, both primary and secondary, over the last two series.

"We feel real comfortable with his game. We know it's a matter of time before he scores."

On matching lines with the Sharks

"We have a comfort level that we can play any of our lines against any opponent's lines. The strength of our team throughout the course of this playoffs has been the balance at the forward group that we have. We think we have guys on each line that have awareness at both ends of the rink. So we really like that balance. I think it makes us more difficult to play against.

The Elephant in the Room: The tale of Jumbo Joe Thornton

"We chose to use [Nick Bonino] a fair amount against [Joe] Pavelski's and [Joe] Thornton's line because we think their line has awareness at both ends of the rink. I think when you have offensive people that play against other team's offensive people, the benefit of that is when they have the puck, they force those guys to have to play defense. They're threats to score.

"That's one of the things we like about Bones' line. Bones and [Carl Hagelin] are penalty killers for us. They have very good defensive strengths, defensive skill sets. They have great awareness. They have good sticks. Bones is very good down low in the D zone."

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On the resurrection of Chris Kunitz      

"I think he's just been more proactive as far as his skating and forcing the play in all three zones. I think when Chris is at his best, he's real difficult to play against. He brings an element of nastiness to his game, for lack of a better term. He can get in on the forecheck. He's got a physical presence to his game. He really creates havoc. He's hard to play against. That's when he's at his best.

"He's really done a great job as far as forcing opponents to have to make plays under pressure. He creates a lot of turnovers."


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