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Pens/Kings Recap: Rust scores twice in OT to salt away Pittsburgh’s perfect road trip

Bryan Rust gets a goal disallowed in OT for being offsides, so he simply scores again. The Pens prevail in LA 4-3.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Los Angeles Kings Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images


Tristan Jarry’s injury last game causes some ripple effects to the lineup; Magnus Hellberg gets his first start as a Penguin and Joel Blomqvist dresses for his first NHL game as a backup. Vinnie Hinostroza has to be sent down as a salary cap sacrifice to make it work so Jeff Carter is back in the lineup after all in the place he won two Stanley Cups.

The Kings go with Pheonix Copley in net being on the second part of a back-to-back

First period

Los Angeles starts strong but Pittsburgh weathers an early storm and gets the game’s first goal. Sidney Crosby stays hot and extends his point-streak to seven games by jumping up and winning a puck, wheeling around the net and beating Copley to the far post on a wraparound. 1-0 Pens, 7:11 into the game.

Pittsburgh gets the game’s first power play when Adrian Kempe punches Evgeni Malkin after the whistle. But it’s the Kings who score right before it expires. Hellberg fails to handle a bouncing puck headed his way and Erik Karlsson (who played the full two minutes) doesn’t pressure Anze Kopitar nor end up in the passing lane so Carl Grundstrom can chop it past Hellberg. 1-1 game.

Shots are 12-8 Kings through 20. On one hand, it’s fitting that it’s a 1-1 game given how the period went. On the other hand, situationally the Pens blew a great chance to push their lead to 2-0 on the power play and then let LA right back into the game.

Second period

All Kings early on. Radim Zohorna goes to the box, LA doesn’t score but gets nine of the first 10 shots of the period. Hellberg was being tested heavily and playing well to keep the game tied.

The Pens get a rare chance, Kris Letang’s shot is tipped by Jake Guentzel right in front of the net but it hits the post.

That missed opportunity comes back to bite Pittsburgh, Mikey Anderson skates the puck through and past Zohorna and Drew O’Connor, gives over to Kempe who beats Hellberg with a high, hard shot. 2-1 LA almost exactly halfway through the period and game.

The Pens get another rare chance, and it’s Guentzel again from right in front, but he can’t steer in the Karlsson setup.

Letang has to take down a King in front of the net to prevent a scoring chance and LA is back to the line. But much like LA got things going shorthanded, Lars Eller provides the boost for Pittsburgh and ties the game with a strong individual effort. 2-2 game.

Amazingly and against all odds, this game is tied after 40 minutes. LA up 14-5 in shots in the second, and 25-12 overall. Pens are hanging on for dear life but still right in the game.

Third period

The third glorious scoring chance was the charm for Jake Guentzel, who scored on first shift of the third. Erik Karlsson led the breakout and bumped a pass over for Crosby. Sid put a vintage Sid pass down for Guentzel to poke it in. 3-2 Pens just 37 seconds into the final frame.

The Kings get their third straight power play of the game but Pittsburgh kills it off.

LA ties it up, they drive to the net and the puck bounces around wildly in front, pulling Hellberg all kinds of ways around. Kevin Fiala is able to follow it and put it home. Game back to even at 3-3.

The refs assess LA a penalty and the Pittsburgh power play gets another big chance to re-establish the lead but...Well, they didn’t give up a goal this time at least, but didn’t score one either with the game in the balance.

In the final minute of regulation both teams get a chance to end it. Bryan Rust crashes the net and tries to power one in, it doesn’t go and back the other way Kris Letang had to block a shot from Anze Kopitar in order to preserve a point in the standings for Pittsburgh.


Noel Acciari takes the opening draw but loses it.

The OT is mostly patient with each team taking their time and focusing on maintaining possession of the puck. Hellberg makes a big stop on Kempe, the puck goes the other way and Rust is there to knock home his rebound.

But hold the phone, after an automatic review, Rust was off-side at the line. Play resumes with 90 seconds left and then Rust simply scores again, this time on a wraparound to his forehand side about 15 seconds for the ever-rare second overtime goal. Only one counts, but it counts to lift Pittsburgh to a three-game sweep of the California teams.

Some thoughts

  • The Pens didn’t have the speed, passing or time to have much for LA’s tight and physical man coverage. Then again, the Kings are 6-0-2 in their eight so not many do these days.
  • Pittsburgh was set for an uphill battle no matter what in this game (on the road, really quality foe, third string goalie in) but it’s tough to ignore that up 1-0 they got a power play and by the end of it the other team scored. They could have ended the drama early with a late third period PPG but didn’t find it. Luckily it didn’t burn them, but still a lot to figure out in that regard.
  • Luckily Eller shorthanded made up for the overall special teams battle. Both teams oddily enough were more effective down a player than being up one. Go figure.
  • For all the good about Zohorna (and he has been plenty good to this point), it was a difficult night tonight. Got absolutely smoked in the middle of the ice in the first, took a penalty in the second, and didn’t exactly cloak himself in glory on the defensive play for the Kings’ go ahead goal later on in the period.
  • You never know what you’re gonna get and can’t ask too much of a third string goalie, but considering Hellberg was claimed three times last season on waivers, he’s a 2B goalie in the league if there ever was one as a fringe NHLer. Even though his team was badly out-shot and out-played for most of the contest, Hellberg held out and did as well as could be expected. Encouraging game from the big netminder.
  • The Pens’ third goal might be the quintessential Penguins goal for 2023-24. Marcus Pettersson quietly wins the puck and moves it up. He doesn’t get the glory of an assist, yet is important just the same. Karlsson skates into space, pushes the play and somehow even gets a drive to the net to allow the classic Crosby pass-Guentzel goal to happen. That’s what you picture and imagine by adding Erik Karlsson to the Pens.
  • Karlsson, coincidentally, was noticeable in playing more shifts with the top line, including starting the periods. Usually that has been the Graves-Letang pair there, but the tweak proved to be beneficial. The Pens basically use them as 1A and 1B pairs anyways, but especially given the choppy/ineffective play of Graves with the puck, probably a good idea to freshen it up about now.
  • Acciari was only 3-for-8 in the faceoff circle, making an interesting choice to throw out for the opening draw in 3v3 OT. And he promptly lost it cleanly. That seemed like a little bit of over-thinking by Sullivan. (Crosby, by the way was 65% winning 11 of 17 faceoffs in regulation).
  • Can’t say I can remember a player scoring two overtime goals 15 seconds apart. Rust was definitely offside on the first one, but even though the Pens had celebrated a win, they got right back to work and Rust simply scored again in short order. Had the refs found a way to wash that out, he probably would have found a way to score a third time. Unbelievable stuff.

That’ll be a wrap for the California games on the season, the Pens go 3-0-0 to steady their season. They now back to the East coast and in a hurry for a home game against Buffalo that begins about 41 hours after this one ended.