Islanders have no answers for Bryant Rust, Penguins

PITTSBURGH — The Islanders were starting to creep closer, but this was Bryan Rust’s night.

Rust sat in the penalty box as the Islanders trimmed a three-goal deficit to two, then flirted with cutting it to one as the clock ticked down.

When the Pittsburgh Penguins forward hopped out, however, he found another friendly bounce in a night full of them, pouncing on a clearing attempt and racing down the ice to finish off his fourth career hat trick as the Penguins cooled off the Islanders 6-3 on Saturday night.

“There was a wide array of emotions in the box there,” Rust said.

The only ones he felt afterward were a mixture of jubilation and relief after the Penguins pulled within two points of New York and Washington for the top spot in the crowded East Division. Pittsburgh has won 10 of 13 despite a series of injuries that have decimated its forward group.

The Penguins have kept plugging away anyway. Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist, Evan Rodrigues added his fourth and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the first time in more than two years as Pittsburgh improved to 5-2 against the Islanders.

Bryan Rust celebrates with teammates after scoring one of his three goals in the Islanders' 6-3 loss to the Penguins.
Bryan Rust celebrates with teammates after scoring one of his three goals in the Islanders’ 6-3 loss to the Penguins.
NHLI via Getty Images

“That was a really big win for us because that’s who we’re chasing in the standings,” forward Sam Lafferty said.

The Penguins can catch New York with another win when the teams meet again Monday for the eighth and final time during the regular season.

Mathew Barzal ended a 10-game goal drought by picking up his 10th of the season. Anthony Beauvillier and Jordan Eberle also scored for New York, but the Penguins needed just 26 minutes to Ilya Sorokin on their way to building a 5-0 lead.

The 25-year-old rookie had been unbeaten since mid-February, but his eight-game run — one of them a 2-0 shutout win over the Penguins on Feb. 28 — came to an abrupt end after giving up four goals on nine shots before being replaced by Semyon Varlamov.

“I didn’t see enough from anybody, Ilya included,” New York coach Barry Trotz said. “Ilya and the rest of the team. It just wasn’t enough. So change it up. Maybe Varly could stabilize us, and maybe we can crawl back in the game.”

The Islanders scored three straight, eventually pulling within two on Eberle’s sixth of the season with 2:27 remaining. The Islanders had several chances to get closer thanks to the penalty on Rust. Jarry made a series of quality stops to keep the Islanders at bay, though Barzal liked the way the Islanders tilted the ice in the third.

“We didn’t shrink,” Barzal said. “We tried to push. We had a great push at the end.”

New York Post

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