Penguins notebook: Rust’s spirited play gaining foes’ notice
During a post-whistle scrum in the third period of Sunday’s game, Washington’s T.J. Oshie skated up to Penguins winger Bryan Rust, who was engaged in a war of words with Alexander Ovechkin, and turned him 45 degrees sideways for a look at the back of his jersey.
Oshie was being a wise guy, insinuating he didn’t know the Penguins’ rookie’s name.
If he keeps playing like he did this weekend, more people than Oshie will know who Rust is.
For one thing, after multiple scoring chances came his way the previous few games, he finished one in the first period, sparking the Penguins offense to a 6-2 victory.
“I think that was breakaway No. 4 in three games or something like that,” Rust said. “It definitely felt nice to finish one, especially in the first period. That kind of gets my confidence going and gets my legs going the rest of the game.”
Rust has been a lightning rod for nastiness in the past week.
On Thursday, he was speared below the belt by Carolina’s Jordan Staal. On Saturday, he jawed with dangerous Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds. On Sunday, he was sent crashing head-first into the boards by Cranberry native Mike Weber in a dangerous boarding incident.
Rust said he felt fine after the hit and that he just turned the wrong way and went awkwardly into the boards.
He also said he’s not trying to create controversy on the ice.
“I think it’s just kind of happening that way,” Rust said. “Just kind of going to the net and staying there and guys start chirping back and forth, and I happen to be in the middle of it all the time. I don’t know if that’s because I’m trying to. I’m really not.”
Defenseman Brian Dumoulin left the game in the third period after taking a hard hit from Ovechkin in the corner.
Coach Mike Sullivan said he wouldn’t have an update on Dumoulin’s condition until Monday or Tuesday morning. Trevor Daley, Dumoulin’s defense partner, was optimistic.
“Ovy plays the game like that. He plays the game hard,” Daley said. “It’s unfortunate. I think Dumo’s going to be all right, and that’s all we care about, that he’s going to be OK.”
More rough stuff
The hits on Rust and Dumoulin weren’t the only bits of nastiness in the game. In the second period, almost every whistle was followed by a shoving match or two.
During one scrum, Oshie threw ungloved punches at a fallen Sidney Crosby, who had been pushed onto his back on the ice. Sullivan said he was pleased with how his team responded when play got more violent.
“When the score gets out of hand, guys get emotional and try to play more physical, that kind of thing,” Crosby said. “I think that’s pretty typical.”
Daley scored a highlight-reel first-period goal, roofing a backhand shot to the short side to beat Capitals goalie Braden Holtby. The play started in an unusual fashion, however.
Patric Hornqvist won a battle for a loose puck by kicking it ahead to Crosby while lying face down on the ice after being sandwiched by a pair of Capitals defenders.
“That’s why we play soccer before the games (to warm up),” Hornqvist joked. “Finally had to use it.”