Penguins’ Rust no longer showing rust, ready for Hurricanes
RALEIGH, N.C. — The Pittsburgh Penguins have lots going for them recently.
And it might be getting even better.
That’s because they tapped another source for production earlier this week.
This could spell more trouble for the Carolina Hurricanes, who’ve been unable to snap out of it, when the teams meet Saturday night at PNC Arena.
Pittsburgh’s Bryan Rust scored two goals in Thursday night’s 2-1 victory against the Minnesota Wild. That gives him five goals in a six-game stretch.
It’s almost like giving the Penguins a bonus considering that Rust, a 26-year-old winger, had one goal in his first 29 games this season.
“Rusty does so many things beyond the numbers,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. “Certainly when he helps us offensively, it’s a boost for our team. His speed is evident. He’s confident. We’re thrilled that it’s going in the net for him.”
There’s a serious tone coming from the Hurricanes, who’ve sputtered to a 2-5-2 mark across their last nine games.
Thursday night’s 4-1 home loss to the Detroit Red Wings resulted in a prolonged postgame meeting.
“We’re not tough enough,” Carolina captain Justin Williams said. “We dominate stretches of periods and maybe feel that we should be leading. We’re not mentally tough enough to stay, ‘All right, that didn’t go our way. Let’s stick with it.’ “
Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said the team’s ongoing scoring woes are draining for the team.
“We got away from our game,” he said in reference to the Detroit game. “When you don’t score, you try to be too cute. … It’s all predicated on just not scoring. Guys trying to do too much. That definitely doesn’t work for us.”
The Hurricanes outshot the Red Wings 39-24 but it didn’t matter.
“Regardless of age or experience, everyone in here has played on good teams,” Williams said. “Everyone knows what the good feelings are when things are going well.”
More than two months into the season, Brind’Amour said seeing the team waver too much from the game plan is trouble.
“It doesn’t work when we get away (from the system),” he said. “To see that creep in. … No one will feel sorry for you. You have to believe that your game plan is good enough to win.”
The Penguins have points in eight of their last 10 games.
“We’re taking what they give us and not trying to force plays that aren’t there,” Sullivan said. “Having success the last couple of games, it’s important for our confidence.”
It’s not all rosy for the Penguins. Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak has been sidelined by a concussion.
For Carolina, rookie right winger Andrei Svechnikov has a four-game points streak. He has scored a total of four goals across the past four games, giving him 10 goals for the season.
“We can’t be sitting here relying on an 18-year-old to be the guy to get it done,” Brind’Amour said. “That’s not the plan, that’s for sure.”
In Thursday’s loss, center Jordan Staal and left winger Micheal Ferland returned to the Hurricanes lineup, so getting them back in a groove is a priority. Staal missed the five games, while Ferland sat out seven of eight games — both dealing with concussions.
This will be the first of four meetings this season between Pittsburgh and Carolina.