PITTSBURGH (AP) — Evan Rodrigues and Bryan Rust both finished off hat tricks in the third period and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the San Jose Sharks 8-5 Sunday for their eighth straight win.
Rodrigues and Rust each scored twice as the Pens built a 6-1 lead in the first period. Both added insurance goals in the final period, with Rodrigues completing his first career hat trick with 2:01 left and Rust scoring into an empty net with 11 seconds remaining. Rust had a career-best five points.READ MORE: UPMC Study: COVID-19 Linked With Headaches, Altered Mental Status In Hospitalized Kids
San Jose scored three times in the first 4:09 of the third period but couldn’t overcome the huge deficit, which led to an early exit for goalie James Reimer. Alexander Barbanov, Brent Burns, Matt Nieto, Jacob Middleton, and Logan Couture scored for the Sharks.
Casey DeSmith made 22 saves for Pittsburgh in place of starter Tristan Jarry, who is one of four Penguins in COVID-19 protocols. Pittsburgh hadn’t played since Dec. 19.
Kasper Bjorkqvist scored his first NHL goal and Jake Guentzel his 16th of the season for the Penguins, who have won eight or more games consecutively for the 11th time in franchise history. It’s the first time Pittsburgh has won eight straight since the 2018-19 season.
Rodrigues has a career-best 13 goals this season and has five goals and seven points in his past four games. He scored twice in the first 4:11
The Sharks had won two straight, including a wild 8-7 win over Arizona on Dec. 28. They’ve lost four of seven overall.
Reimer allowed six goals on 17 first-period shots. Zach Sawchenko replaced Reimer in the second period and made 20 saves in his NHL debut. Sawchenko had a .859 save percentage in the American Hockey League.
The Penguins scored six-plus goals in a period for the 16th time in franchise history and first since Nov. 27, 2019. Pittsburgh also tied a team record for most goals scored in the first period of a game. There have only been three instances in team history where Pittsburgh scored more than six goals in a period, most recently Feb. 27, 1995.
Burns scored a second-period power-play goal, then the Sharks cut it to 6-5 early in the third.
DeSmith misplayed Nieto’s point shot 20 seconds into the period, and it caromed off the end boards, banked off the Penguins’ goaltender and into the net.
Karlsson’s slap shot from the point made it a two-goal game at 3:01 of the third, while Couture finished a one-timer from Timo Meier to make it 6-5 at 4:09.READ MORE: Farmers Protecting Livestock From Bitter Cold
Rust and Guentzel played for the first time after extended absences.
Rust missed the last 11 games because of a lower-body injury, while Guentzel hadn’t played since Dec. 6 at Seattle because of an upper-body injury.
Prior to his injury, Rust had two goals and nine points in his last 12 games.
Guentzel has 13 goals in his last 13 games. He also has points in each of his last 14 games and goals in his last six. Guentzel is the second Penguin in the last 10 years to record a point in 14 straight appearances, joining Pascal Dupuis during the 2011-12 season.
Bjorkqvist is the sixth current Penguin to score in his debut.
Bjorkqvist, Pittsburgh’s 2016 second-round pick, had a defender draped on him in front of the net when he shoveled a centering pass from Radim Zohorna behind Reimer for Pittsburgh’s fifth goal.
Sharks: Continue a four-game road trip Tuesday at Detroit.
Penguins: Host St. Louis on Wednesday before a six-game road trip.MORE NEWS: Driver Killed When Car Crashes Into Washington County Home
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