PITTSBURGH — The Penguins, suddenly the hottest team in the NHL, had much to be thankful for at the end of this year’s annual Thanksgiving Eve game at PPG Paints Arena.
Bryan Rust scored for the first time since the opener. Zach Aston-Reese finally got his first goal. Tristan Jarry served up another scrumptious start. Their power play clicked Wednesday. And eight Penguins showed up on the scoresheet.
Oh, and the 4-1 victory over Vancouver was Pittsburgh’s fourth in a row.
The Penguins dominated the first period, firing 16 shots on goal. On an early power play, Sidney Crosby was left alone with the puck in front for so long he could have stuffed two turkeys, but he couldn’t beat Thatcher Demko. They also had six chances off the rush, per Sportlogiq. Even Brian Dumoulin barged in alone.
The game remained scoreless after the first period, largely due to Demko. But the Penguins beat him early in the second then poured it on in that period.
The Pittsburgh power play came up empty on its first two opportunities. But with a Canuck in the box and a clean sheet of ice, the Penguins scored 49 seconds into the second period. Beautiful puck movement set up Rust’s one-time blast.
That was Rust’s first goal since the Oct. 12 season opener down in Tampa.
“It’s been a little bit of up and down. … There’s been times when I’ve been good, making plays and feeling good. And there’s times when I’ve had lapses,” Rust said last week before the Penguins boarded the team plane up to Montreal.
On that day, the winger also predicted that the top line would soon get it going with Crosby knocking off the rust. He would be right. Jake Guentzel extended his scoring streak to five games, though that ended Wednesday. Crosby got one in Montreal. And Rust now has four points in four games since that conversation.
Evan Rodrigues sniped Demko from an acute angle to make it 2-0. Then with 4:40 left in the second period, Aston-Reese finished off a 3-on-1 rush for his first goal in his 17 games played this season. Brock McGinn put it on a platter for him.