Penguins notebook: Pens await their second-round playoff opponent
Because he scored two goals in a series-clinching victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night, winger Bryan Rust received the Pirates batting helmet the players distribute internally to the team MVP following every win.
After fitting it on his head, Rust offered only a brief address to the locker room.
“See you in a couple days, boys,” Rust said, as various celebrations went on around him.
Rust's comments illustrate perhaps the biggest benefit the Penguins earned by finishing off the Blue Jackets in five games. They'll have more rest than their opponents heading into the second round.
Washington and Toronto will settle their series Sunday if it ends in six games or Tuesday if it goes seven.
The Penguins had Friday off and were scheduled for an off-ice workout Saturday before returning to practice Sunday morning.
“You've got to make the most of it,” Sidney Crosby said. “You can use it as rest, and you can use it to prepare for whoever you play. It's big, especially (because) we've had some guys who have been injured and banged up. Hopefully we get some guys back slowly here. It was a physical series. To get a couple days to rest and get ready will help us.”
The Penguins made a few roster changes Friday morning, sending wingers Tom Sestito and Josh Archibald and defenseman Cameron Gaunce to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The Baby Pens opened their AHL playoff run Friday night in Providence.
Gaunce has to clear waivers before playing for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
With Archibald, Sestito and Gaunce back in the AHL, the Penguins have only one healthy extra on their roster: defenseman Mark Streit.
When Scott Wilson scored about six minutes into Game 5, it was a significant moment for three reasons.
First, it drove a dagger into any potential comeback the Blue Jackets were planning, making the score 5-2.
Second, it was the first playoff point of Wilson's career. He got his postseason start before some of his Wilkes-Barre/Scranton call-up compatriots, playing in three games of a first-round loss to the Rangers in 2015, but he missed all of last season's playoffs with a lower-body injury.
Third, it was highlight-reel caliber, with Wilson skating into the rebound of a Trevor Daley shot from the left wing and quickly flicking a behind-the-back backhand shot past goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and inside the post.
“That's definitely blind, hoping I make contact,” Wilson said. “Anytime I can try to get to the net and find loose pucks, I do my best.”