PITTSBURGH - Heading into the matchup against the St. Louis Blues, the Pittsburgh Penguins weren’t getting the kind of production they wanted from Bryan Rust.
Being pushed around the Penguins lineup, Rust had only recorded two points in his previous 14 games.
While still recording multiple shots every night, Rust’s lack of production wasn’t from low effort or even not taking advantage of opportunities.
Head coach Mike Sullivan said before the game against the Blues that Rust was improving every game and putting the pressure on opponents.
A breakthrough came in a big way for Rust when he recorded a goal and three assists against the Blue to kick his cold streak.
Rust’s goal came from easily winning a board battle and taking advantage of open ice before shooting high on goalie Jordan Binnington, who was looking low.
This isn’t the first time Rust has had a drought like this and he realizes that, but is fortunate to see a turnaround.
“Any time you go through stretches like that it’s in the back of your head,” Rust said. “I’ve gone through stretches much worse. You try and stay level headed.”
Feeling the pressure catching up with him, Rust was just trying to simplify his game; getting pucks on net and hoping one can find a way through or create a new chance.
All season, Rust has only gone one game without recording a shot and sits at 72 on the season.
“The last few games I’ve been trying to put a lot of pucks on net,” Rust said. “That just breeds overall confidence.”
Following his four-point game, Sullivan said that Rust’s line had been building momentum and were rewarded in a big way.
Rust recorded four points, but his linemates, Evgeni Malkin and Jason Zucker, also got in on the fun for three points each.
“I don’t know if I sensed a breakout,” Sullivan said. “We felt like their game has been building.”
It was a huge night for Rust and his line to not only build their confidence but find what they had that made them such a threat to score.
Rust now sits with six goals and eight assists for 14 points on the season; what's the key going forward?
"Just play hockey. Get out of your own head and play hockey."
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