Bryan Rust Leads Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup Finals
Tied at three games apiece, the NHL Eastern Conference Finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning came down to a do or die Game 7 in Pittsburgh on May 26th. Sometimes the superstars make the difference in such games, but other times an unlikely hero emerges. It was the latter scenario in this case as rookie Bryan Rust scored two second period goals to lead the Penguins over the Lightning 2-1. Rust scored just four goals in 41 regular season games, but now has five in 17 playoff games.
Another rookie, goalie Matt Murray, also stepped up, saving 16 or 17 shots. Murray was filling in for normal starter Marc-Andre Fleury, who was ineffective in his return from an injury. Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who is also a rookie and filled in for the injured Ben Bishop, did everything that could be asked of him by stopping 37 of 39 shots. But you still need to score to win, and Pittsburgh’s relentless defense neutralized the Lightning, even with the return of team captain Steven Stamkos, who saw action for the first time since March 31st. Stamkos had been out with an upper body injury and was a surprise activation, but Tampa Bay was pulling out all the stops.
The Penguins will face the San Jose Sharks in the Stanley Cup Finals, with Game 1 on Memorial Day, May 30th, in Pittsburgh. San Jose is looking for its first Cup ever, while Pittsburgh seeks its fourth and first since the 2008-9 season.