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Penguins trying out new looks on second, third lines

Jonathan Bombulie
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Pittsburgh Penguins’ Bryan Rust, right, is stopped by Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom, of Sweden, during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

If Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford has a specific target area of his roster that he’d like to improve before the Feb. 25 trade deadline, it’s probably the second and third lines.

Before that happens, though, it looks like the Penguins are going to try some internal options to get Evgeni Malkin and Derick Brassard’s lines firing on all cylinders.

Because Sidney Crosby was absent as he made his way back to town from the Saturday’s NHL All-Star Game, it’s probably not wise to read too much into the line combinations the Penguins used at practice Sunday afternoon.

Still, the Penguins showed some looks with Bryan Rust on the left side of the second line with Malkin and Phil Kessel while Brassard centered Tanner Pearson and Patric Hornqvist on the third.

The Penguins have been hesitant to use the right-handed Rust on the left wing, but he said he doesn’t mind making the switch.

“Maybe a catch a few more backhand passes in pregame skate,” Rust said. “Other than that, things aren’t too much different.”

In the past, Rust’s speed has been a dangerous complement to Malkin’s skill.

“I think with him, trying to back the D off and let him be able to find that open space and pull up and make those plays, that’s what I’m looking to do out there,” Rust said.

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Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.