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Penguins' Rust proving why bottom six matters

Penguins' Rust proving why bottom six matters

News, notes and some World Cup of Hockey roster announcements as the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks prepare to battle it out in the Stanley Cup Final:

Rust never sleeps: Caps GM Brian MacLellan wasn’t just whistling Dixie when he said the Caps need to infuse offense into their bottom two forward lines.

The Caps received just four even-strength goals in 12 games from their bottom six forwards – three from Jay Beagle and one from Jason Chimera. (Justin Williams added three goals, two of them when he was dropped to a third line).

The Penguins, on the other hand, have gotten 22 even-strength goals from their bottom six, including two from Bryan Rust in their series-clinching 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.

Rust’s second goal came just 30 seconds after the Lightning tied the game in the second period, to help the Penguins advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the fifth time in franchise history (1991, 1992, 2008, 2009, 2016).

Rust became the second rookie in NHL history to record multiple goals in two series-clinching wins in a single postseason. The other was Chicago’s Jeremy Roenick in 1990.

Rust has five goals through 17 playoff games, which matches his career total from his 55 regular-season appearances (5 goals, 8 assists).

Rookie goalies: Per Elias, Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray (16 saves) and Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy (37 saves) became the sixth set of rookie goaltenders to face off in a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup playoffs and the first since the 2006 Eastern Conference Final, when Carolina’s Cam Ward defeated Buffalo’s Ryan Miller.

Game 7s: The Penguins are now 8-7 all-time in Game 7s, including a 3-7 record at home. Their home win in a Game 7 was their first since the 1995 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals when they beat the Caps 3-0. …The team that scores first improved to 124-42 (.747) all-time in Game 7s, including a 5-0 record this year. … Home teams improved to 97-69 (.584) all-time in Game 7s in the Stanley Cup playoffs, including a 4-1 record this year.

Next up: Based on their superior regular-season point total, the Penguins will host Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, which begins Monday night at Consol Energy Center.

Late arrival: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos logged 11:55 and two shots on goal while playing in his first game since March 31. … Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin totaled 5 goals and 9 assists in 17 playoff games. He had 4 goals and 10 assists in 21 regular season games.

Ask Stanley on Twitter: Phil Pritchard, the Keeper of the Cup, will visit Twitter Canada’s headquarters in Toronto today for a Q&A with fans beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET. Twitter members can use the #AskStanley hashtag to ask Pritchard (@keeperofthecup) questions about his adventures with the Cup as well as what to expect heading into the Stanley Cup Final.

World Cup announcements: The Caps had no additions to Team Russia, Team Czech Republic and Team Finland, which announced their complete 23-man World Cup rosters earlier today.

But they could have additions to Team USA (Matt Niskanen).

Here is the complete announcement schedules for today:

Team Finland – 3 a.m.
Team Czech Republic – 5 a.m.
Team Russia – 5 a.m.
Team Sweden – 11 a.m.
Team Europe – 6:09 p.m.
Team USA – 6:13 p.m.
Team North America – 6:16 p.m.
Team Canada – 6:22 p.m.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: The Caps add two defensemen, problem solved?

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: The Caps add two defensemen, problem solved?

The Capitals got their trade deadline started early by trading for defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek. Washington has been struggling of late, but do their new acquisitions address the team's weaknesses?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir evaluate the two trades and talk about where they could fit into the lineup.

You can listen to the latest episode here on the Capitals Faceoff page or with the player below.

Want even more great Capitals coverage? Follow @TarikNBCS and @JJReganNBCS on Twitter!

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Caps make second blue line addition, acquire Jakub Jerabek from Montreal

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USA TODAY Sports

Caps make second blue line addition, acquire Jakub Jerabek from Montreal

The Capitals continued to retool their scuffling blue line on Wednesday, acquiring 26-year-old defenseman Jakub Jerabek from Montreal in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2019.

The move comes a couple of days after GM Brian MacLellan dealt a conditional third-round selection to Chicago for swift skating Michal Kempny.

Both Jerabek and Kempny are left shot, puck-moving defensemen who move well and make crisp outlet passes. Both also hail from the Czech Republic.

RELATED: BRADEN HOLTBY BLAMES HIMSELF FOR TAMPA LOSS

The team sees Jerabek as a No. 5 or 6, I’m told.

On Wednesday, the Caps also officially said goodbye to Taylor Chorney, who was claimed off waivers by Columbus. Chorney will report to the Blue Jackets.

The Caps were off on Wednesday as they made their way Florida for Thursday night’s meeting with the Panthers, so it’s unclear how Coach Barry Trotz intends to deploy his new defensemen.

But it’s probably safe to assume that Kempny will move into a spot within the top four with John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen.

MORE CAPITALS: GET TO KNOW MICHAL KEMPNY

That figures to leave Brooks Orpik and Jerabek on the third pair, while rookies Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey jockey for position as the next man up.

Kempny is expected to make his Caps’ debut on Thursday night.

Is the Caps’ D corps better? Well, that remains to be seen. But it had become clear to MacLellan and Co. in recent weeks that the status quo was not going to cut it. This month, in fact, the team has allowed 39 goals in 10 games. Only the Rangers (40) have allowed more in the same span.

With the trade deadline looming next Monday, the Caps now have roughly $617,000 in cap space, according to www.capfriendly.com, and are at the roster maximum of 23 players. So they would need to make a move in order to add another body.