Rust scores 2 as Pens beat Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals

Fri May 27, 2016 12:38am EDT
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(The Sports Xchange) - Sure, Sid and Geno still are around. Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang, too. But these Pittsburgh Penguins aren't just a team of big names, but one of guys still trying to make a name in the NHL, too.

Bryan Rust, a rookie forward who was in the minors for half the season, scored both Pittsburgh goals and the Penguins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 Thursday night in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Their 12th win in 18 playoff games this spring sends a team driven equally by stars and rookies to its first Stanley Cup finals in seven years.

"We've been trying to get back," said Crosby, who helped lead the Penguins to the Stanley Cup in 2009. "It's not easy."

This game certainly wasn't either, especially given the Penguins' three prior Game 7 losses in Consol Energy Center.

Still, the Penguins dominated in shots and scoring chances and, aided by the steady-as-he-goes play of rookie goalie Matt Murray, finished off a comeback from a 3-2 series deficit to deny the Lightning a return trip to the finals.

"We came out against a really good team that hit its stride late in season and carried that into playoffs," said Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman, who had been 7-0 in Game 7s. "You've all seen how well they played, not just against us but in previous two. ... They played better than us the whole series."

Pittsburgh will play host to the San Jose Sharks in the Game 1 of the finals Monday. The Penguins will be playing in their fifth finals -- they won three of the first four -- and the Sharks will be in their first.

"You always wonder if you're going to get back," Kunitz said.   Continued...

May 26, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) makes a save against Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Bryan Rust (17) during the third period in game seven of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL  Energy Center. The Penguins won the game 2-1 and the Eastern Conference Championship four games to three. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports