The Streaking is Over: Penguins fall 1-0 to Maple Leafs

Nothing lasts forever and today, the Pittsburgh Penguins dropped their first in nine games. This second game of the home-at-home series against the Toronto Maple Leafs had a different tone than last night's game. Instead of a goal scoring bonanza, both teams played tight defense, almost eliminating goalies as key figures in the outcome of the game.

The Pens came out very strong but couldn't find a way to get the puck on net. Maybe the shot was blocked, maybe it went wide, maybe it hit the post, it just couldn't get to James Reimer. Brent Johnson, making his first start in 23 games in what has been a sub par season for him, needed the support of a offense but they couldn't cash in. A defensive breakdown led to the lone goal of the game which is a great shame for Johnson who had his best showing of the season.

This was truly a close-checking game and the smallest offensive mistakes were exploited on the grandest scale. Pens ended up taking two penalties nearing the halfway point of the third and that took them out of their game. Including the emotional boost of seeing John-Michael Liles and Colby Armstrong return to the lineup, the Leafs had the fire it took to halt the Pens winning streak at eight.

No worries, plenty of hockey left to start another winning streak. Not a bad game for the Pens, just one that would eventually come.

More after the jump.

  • Deryk Engelland didn't play because of the monstrous hit he received last night that threw him awkwardly into the boards. Lucky for the Pens, he shouldn't be out long. However, this injury did give Ben Lovejoy a spot in the lineup. More on him later.
  • Chris Kunitz had his sixth goal of the season called back. Six. That's how many goals Tyler Kennedy has this season.
  • In the second period, Mike Brown engaged Matt Cooke in the corner and as the scuffle continued, Brown lost his glove in preparation for a fight. Instead of responding, Cooke skated away to backcheck the Leafs' quick counter attack. Veteran move to not get in the fight or take a penalty.
  • Lovejoy stopped a sure goal when he got behind Johnson to swat a trickling puck out of the crease. The fact that he's been getting benched is a tribute to the Pens' depth on defense, but it's a shame to see Lovejoy sitting when he deserves to play.
  • The Pens had 23 missed shots. They registered 25 shots. Great pressure from the Leafs defense and definitely the reason why they won this game.
  • The Leafs also did a solid job blocking shots. Both James Neal, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang had three of their shots blocked a piece.
  • Letang was on the sour end of a few questionable hits and he came back with steam coming out of his ears. This was the most emotion we saw from Letang this season (minus his game winning goal in Montreal) but it also led to two trips to the penalty box.
No Sidney Crosby. No Jordan Staal. Pens sit fifth in the Eastern Conference. Yeah, I'd say they're in pretty good shape when you sit back and take in all that has happened this season.

Big game against the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon. It's always a great test to see how you match up against the reigning Stanley Cup Champs. Get ready for Steve Sullivan to lay out a huge hit on Zdeno Chara.

Go Pens.
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