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View from Ice Level: Rust on McDavid’s wheels


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Bryan Rust holds on to the leg of Connor McDavid. - MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

The Penguins have been grasping for scoring opportunities lately and, as I wrote last week in Florida, Bryan Rust has been one of the Penguins capable of providing them.

Well, Wednesday night, grasping to a one-goal lead over the Oilers, Rust grasped at the leg of Connor McDavid to prevent him from joining a rush and potentially scoring the game-tying-goal.

Sidney Crosby had been doing that Crosby-like grinder stuff behind the net. You know what I am talking about -- No. 87 gets the puck, dances around players, doesn't lose possession. He's better at it than anyone out there.

[caption id="attachment_774251" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Matt Sunday / DKPS[/caption]

The puck ends up at the stick of Rust, McDavid behind him, and that's when Rust does his best Crosby impression. He ducks, turns, possesses ... and McDavid hauls him down, in something of a tackle, separating the puck from Rust's stick.

Rust reached out, wrapped his arms around the leg of McDavid, and made sure he wasn't going to join an odd-man rush to tie the game.

At the top of this story is the photo of Rust grabbing at the leg of McDavid as it happened right in front of me, as well as one of the men in stripes. He watched it play out -- including Rust's actions -- and left it all alone.

There's no way to prove that Rust's retaliatory action kept McDavid from scoring before the Penguins nabbed an empty-net-goal, but there's no way to prove that it didn't, either. That's one way to slow down the fastest skater in the NHL.


Speaking of empty-net-goals, Jared McCann scored one to continue his rather impressive stretch since joining the Penguins in the trade that sent him and Panthers' teammate Nick Bjugstad to Pittsburgh for Derick BrassardRiley Sheahan and picks.

And, honestly, he's been a pretty serious joy to photograph since that day.

[caption id="attachment_774268" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]

That right there is pure joy ... and not the type of celebration you typically see on an empty-netter. Of course, it helps when you're celebrating a 141-foot snipe, regardless of whether a goalie was involved or not.

"I was just excited," McCann told us. "When you're shooting from that far and you have a chance to put the game away, it's a good feeling, you know?"

The other celebratory showman in Wednesday night's game was, of course, Teddy Blueger. Blueger broke our version of the internet Monday when the Penguins chose to scratch the impressive, young forward in order to leave Matt CullenDominik Simon and Garrett Wilson -- the three names brought up most frequently that day -- in their existing roles.

But, Evgeni Malkin swings his stick, gets a game suspension, and Blueger is back in the lineup.

It's a good thing for Blueger, too, because we were privileged enough to witness another golden celebration when No. 53 earned his third NHL goal. I've been there for two of them plus his lone assist to set up Wilson's NHL first.

Every time -- Every. Single. Time. -- Blueger released a wonderful scream I couldn't hear from my position, but I could feel them.

[caption id="attachment_774276" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]

That's Blueger screaming as he turns the corner on his goal celebration, and the fans are 100 percent behind him in it.

"Yeah, obviously, it's big," Blueger said of the impact on his confidence. "It probably helps you fit in a little more, helping the team. Every goal in the NHL is special, so you enjoy it."


If you've ever seen a game in person, you've seen the ice crew make their way around the ice during each media time out. They form a 'Flying V' and expand, pushing shovels, until every bit of the ice has been swept clean of the excess shavings.

Mikko Koskinen, the Oilers goaltender Wednesday, apparently does not approve of it.

Every goalie has routines or quirks they go through multiple times per game. The Capitals Braden Holtby, for instance, moves toward the edge of the left circle, lifts his helmet, mutters to himself and slides back and forth, practicing his motion.

Even during that, Holtby moves out of the ice crew's way.

[caption id="attachment_774283" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]

That image is of Koskinen standing his ground as the ice crew sweeps the ice around him.

I noticed this happen during the previous media time out. He was kneeling in a similar spot, and the crew came to a stop nearby, wondering what to do. Koskinen just blankly looked at them, playing chicken, until the ice crew finally bit.

The next time out, I paid attention for another laugh, as well as a chance to see it again for a photo. That's when I took this shot.

As always, if you're looking for the game's best images, you can find them below:


[caption id="attachment_774244" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Penguins vs. Oilers, PPG Paints Arena, Feb. 13, 2019 - MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]


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