PITTSBURGH — Bryan Rust has helped carry the Pittsburgh Penguins with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin out of the lineup.
Rust scored twice in regulation and got the lone goal in the shootout, and the Penguins beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-4 on Saturday night.
“That’s just a character win,” Rust said. “We obviously have a lot of guys out. We were down by two and then up by two and they tied it up again. It was a bit of a roller-coaster game.”
Rust came through again when the Penguins needed him most.
He faked a shot on the forehand and flipped a blocker-side backhander past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick for the deciding goal. The Kings had a chance to continue the shootout, but the puck rolled off Adrian Kempe’s stick, giving the injury-riddled Penguins their fifth win in six games.
Rust, who scored the overtime winner Thursday against Columbus, had a 5-on-3 power-play goal in the second period. Teddy Blueger and Jack Johnson scored third-period goals, while Jake Guentzel and Kris Letang both had three assists. Pittsburgh has points in 17 of its last 22 games, including 13 wins.
Tristan Jarry, who entered the game with three shutouts in his last four appearances, made 38 saves for Pittsburgh.
Tyler Toffoli, Michael Amadio, Kyle Clifford and Austin Wagner scored for the Kings, who have lost six of their last nine. Quick stopped 23 shots.
“I didn’t think we were sharp in a couple situations offensively where we could’ve finished, but for the most part it was a pretty honest effort from the guys,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said.
Pittsburgh rallied from an early two-goal deficit in the first period, and then blew a two-goal lead in the third. Five of the last eight games between the Penguins and Kings have needed overtime.
Blueger put Pittsburgh ahead 3-2 at 9:26 of the third period. Johnson gave Pittsburgh a two-goal lead 29 seconds after Jarry stopped Anze Kopitar on a breakaway, and then a penalty shot.
But the Kings tied the game with two late goals.
Clifford converted a rebound with 5 minutes left and Amadio scored 1:23 later after a net-mouth scramble in front of Jarry.
“I thought our reaction to (the comeback) was great,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “We didn’t get rattled and we didn’t get on our heels. We just kept playing the game.”
The Penguins played their second straight game without three of their top four centers.
Malkin skated on his own Saturday morning, but he missed his second straight game with an illness. He’s one goal from becoming the fourth in franchise history and eighth active in the NHL to score 400 goals. Crosby and center Nick Bjugstad have been out since November because of core muscle surgery. Pittsburgh is also without top defenseman Brian Dumoulin and forward Patric Hornqvist, who both missed their sixth straight games with lower-body injuries.
The Penguins have won 16 of their last 22 in the regular season without Crosby and Malkin, including eight of the last 10 at home.
“Our guys are playing hard and competing,” Sullivan said. “We’re fighting hard. I just like our effort.”
The Kings are in a stretch in which they play 12 of 16 games on the road, including their current season-long six-game trip.
Los Angeles won its second straight overall and ended an 11-game road winless streak with a win at Anaheim on Thursday. Before Thursday, the Kings were 0-10-1 on the road since a win against Winnipeg on Oct. 22.
Los Angeles plays 11 road games among its 15 total this month. The Kings haven’t won back-to-back road games since beating Anaheim and Calgary in March.
“For us to come into this building where they play exceptionally well as a team, and to push a goaltender that’s as hot as anybody in the league to a shootout … we’ll take it,” McLellan said.
Kings: Continue their trip Sunday at Detroit.