NHL Three Stars: Bryan Rust is Game 7 hero


No. 1 Star: Bryan Rust, Pittsburgh Penguins

Just as everyone predicted, rookie Bryan Rust was the hero for the Penguins in Game 7. He netted two goals in the Penguins Eastern Conference Final win. We were also reminded he went dressed as Phil Kessel’s hotdog for Halloween (above).

No. 2 Star: Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins

The rookie netminder is now 11-4-1 in this year’s playoffs. Pittsburgh controlled a lot of the play, but in the third period, he had to come up big as the Lightning poured on the chances. Not a bad way to spend the day after your 22 birthday.

No. 3 Star: Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning

Yes, he lost, but it could have been a heck of a lot worse. The Penguins laid on 39 shots on goal with 21 of them coming in the second period alone. For someone who is 21-years-old and replacing a Vezina nominated goaltender, he did really well.

Honorable Mention: Evgeni Malkin picked up the secondary assist on both of Rust’s goals. He now has a five game scoring streak. Sidney Crosby led the Penguins with 6 shots on goal. Jonathan Drouin scored the lone goal for Tampa. Steven Stamkos returned to the lineup to play in what could possibly be his last game as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He played 11:55 with 2 shots on goal and 2 hits. Tampa out-hit Pittsburgh 39 to 30.

Did You Know? Dude. Either Phil Kessel or Joe Thornton is going to win the Stanley Cup.

Dishonorable Mention: With the exception of Valtteri Filppula, all Lightning centers were 38 percent or worse on the dot. Jon Cooper noted the differences in penalty time for the game. Tampa was shorthanded for 6:31 minutes in total to Pittsburgh’s 0:31 seconds. Brian Boyle, who scored twice in Game 6, played only 9:54. He took a slashing penalty early, so that didn’t do him any favors.