It's hard to envision anything slowing Bryan Rust anymore, especially after he scored yet again Monday night in the Penguins' 3-2 victory over the Sharks in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, but there's at least a chance he'll miss some time after being felled by a Patrick Marleau head shot and leaving in the third period.
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Rust was carrying the puck into the San Jose zone when Marleau came laterally across the blue line and leveled him with a shoulder to the head at 4:47 of the period:
Rust remained prone for a spell, rose to one knee, then left for the locker room without assistance. After a few minutes, he returned to the bench and to action, but only for one shift. And when that was done, he could be seen speaking with Eric Fehr and athletic trainer Chris Stewart before again going to the locker room, this time for good.
Mike Sullivan called Rust "day to day" with an upper-body injury, offering no specifics.
Both Josh Yohe and I separately saw Rust well after the game, and he was conversant and appeared to be in good spirits, but that shouldn't be interpreted as anything remotely resembling a diagnosis. Also for what it's worth, word emerged from the locker room that it was Rust who passed along the team's 'warrior' helmet after the game to Nick Bonino for scoring the winning goal.
Marleau was issued a minor penalty for an illegal hit to the head, but the NHL Department of Player Safety was known to be viewing it for possible supplemental discipline.
Sullivan seemed to take exception to the hit without explicitly saying so.
"It's a blind-side hit to the head," the coach said. "He gets a penalty, and I'm sure the league will look at it."
Marleau's locker stall, predictably, was swarmed by cameras and microphones. The 18-year veteran stressed he has "no history of being a dirty player" and said he doesn't expect to be suspended: "I don't think so. I just tried to keep everything down. I didn't want to get too high on him. I kept my shoulder in, elbow in, everything in. I just kind of let him skate into me."
Rust's loss couldn't come at a worse time. He has six goals in 18 playoff games, including both goals in the Penguins' 2-1 Game 7 victory over the Lightning in the Eastern Conference final, then this rebound goal for the icebreaker in the first period Monday:
Rust's sixth goal gave him the franchise record for a rookie in the playoffs.
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