The Pittsburgh Penguins are on a tear. With a 6-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, the team has won 10 consecutive games. The victory over the Flyers was the fifth in the stretch by a margin of three or more goals.
The Penguins’ top line led the way as Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust combined for four goals and three assists. Guentzel and Rust scored two goals apiece against a Flyers team that was missing captain Claude Giroux, top defenseman Ivan Provorov and forward Travis Konecny as a result of being in COVID-19 protocols.
“We’re all playing at a high level right now,” Guentzel said regarding Pittsburgh’s top line. “For us, when we’re getting the bounces and we’re playing in the offensive zone and trying to wear teams out, I think that’s when we’re at our best.”
Over his last three games, Rust has been on fire. He’s scored seven goals and dished out four assists. This came after the Penguins forward missed 11 straight games due to an undisclosed injury.
On Thursday, Rust netted two goals in the opening period, with his first tally coming of the power-play variety. Rust ended up scoring the first two goals for Pittsburgh in a game that they led 3-0 after the first 20 minutes.
Rust’s 11 points in the first three games of 2022 put him in some pretty elite company. In the NHL‘s modern era (since the 1943-44 season), only Wayne Gretzky (1982 and 1984) and Mario Lemieux (1997) have registered 11+ points in the first three games of a calendar year.
Pittsburgh hasn’t lost since Dec. 1 against the Edmonton Oilers. Don’t look now, but the Penguins are getting within earshot of their franchise record 17-game winning streak, which took place in March and April 1993.