Sam Kasan gives his three impressions from the press box of the Pens’ 2-1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. 1. Hero
Game 7s are where legends are made and heroes are born. And usually, the hero turns out to be someone you would least suspect. And for the Pens, it was rookie Bryan Rust that stepped up and delivered for his team. Rust scored two goals in the contest, both in the second period. He gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead after taking a pass and drifting to the top of the circles. Rust then ripped a shot into the top far corner. But his second goal was even bigger. Just 30 seconds after the Bolts tied the game at 1-1, Rust gave Pittsburgh the lead again after chipping in a loose puck at the crease. Rust had a couple of great opportunities in the third period, and could have had five goals in this game. In the biggest game of his career, Rust put on a show. 2. Stammer
There was one final twist to this series before Game 7 as Steven Stamkos returned to action. The Bolts captain hadn’t played since March 31st due to a blood clot. But he gutted it out in his return, risking literally his life, to log 11:55 of ice time. Stamkos had a great opportunitiy in the second period streaking down the near side. He teed up a slap shot, but Matt Murray got enough of the puck to steer it wide of the net. 3. Dominance
Make no mistake, the Pens were the better team. They showed again in Game 7 with an utterly dominating performance. To Pittsburgh’s credit, it didn’t play scared. Instead, the Pens attacked and attacked and attacked. They tilted the ice heavily in their favor with their speed and forecheck. The Pens put 21 shots on net in the second period alone and had a 29-10 edge after 40 minutes. They finished with a decisive advantage of 39-17. It was a total team effort and a total team victory.