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Penguins vs. Maple Leafs Recap: Missed opportunites lead to an OT loss

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The Pittsburgh Penguins fail to score on a long 5 on 3 power play, and only score 1 goal overall, which isn't enough in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Pregame

Toronto, per usual, starts a 7:00 game at 7:18 after a pregame ceremony. 3 lineup changes for the Penguins from last night; Marc-Andre Fleury is in the net, Steve Oleksy gets in for the injured Trevor Daley and Eric Fehr slots in to replace Tom Kuhnhackl.

1st period

Very early in the game Carl Hagelin earns a penalty shot with his speed but can't score on Frederick Anderson.

But then, a scary moment where James van Riemsdyk gets hooked up with Oleksy and his skate accidentally kicks up and catches Fleury somewhere in the chin/neck area. Could have been really, really bad but though it drew some blood (and forced MAF to the locker-room for repairs) he would thankfully be OK and able to return after two TV timeouts.

The Penguins get the game's first goal on the power play, beautiful work from the new-look top unit. Justin Schultz freezes Anderson and makes a great pass to Evgeni Malkin . Malkin's got a wide open net and wires a shot into it. 1-0 Pens.

But the lead lasts exactly 14 seconds. On the first shot Fleury sees in his return, the puck bounces around and eventually off Fleury's head and in the net. van Riemsdyk is right around the crease so the Penguins challenge however there's not enough evidence to overturn the call on the ice. 1-1.

Shots 14-13 in favor of TOR after 20 minutes.

2nd period

The Pens don't do much good, looking very much like a team who played and traveled last night at this time. Shots were 20-10 TOR, but not much terribly dangerous even though the Leafs did have 6 minutes worth of power play time. Fleury was better after his tumultuous first period of getting cut and then giving up a weird goal on the next shot he saw.

3rd period

Not much going on, the Penguins catch a break when Toronto gets a 4 minute power play erroneously when Hornqvist's own stick hits himself in the face and then on that PP, a puck over the glass penalty gives a full 2 minute 5v3. Pittsburgh racks up zone time but fails to score.

Overtime

Mitch Marner steals the puck from a lackadaisical Derrick Pouliot in the corner and Marc-Andre Fleury, um dives out on his belly for some reason and it's a wide open net for Jake Gardiner to end the game. Pens get a point, but that's all they'll get

Some Thoughts

  • Within the first 2 minutes of the game the Pens get a penalty shot and then lose their starting goalie to inadvertent skate to the chops. Already more excitement than arguably the whole game last night against the snoozefest LA team.
  • With Daley and Letang out, the last person the Penguins want to see skate to the penalty box is Ian Cole . Yet that's what he did in the first period. Luckily Pittsburgh was able to kill it off without their last best remaining PK'er unavailable.
  • Matt Murray got pressed into duty after the Fleury cut. He made 6 saves in 7:12 before MAF came back. Murray was a little sloppy with some of his rebounds, but coming in cold on the 2nd night of back-to-backs unexpectedly, yeah I can see why. The most important thing was keeping the score at 0 while Fleury got his repairs.
  • Ironically the two guys who don't get a point on the Pens only goal on the PP (Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist) are huge reasons why the goal was possible with their double screen (plus the defensemen) taking away the goalies eyes.
  • Crosby didn't record a point last night for the first time since November 25th and the team's 7 game win streak was snapped too, so that meant Superstitious Sid shaved off the leftovers of the Movember facial hair ting he had going on.
  • Troubling not to score on 2 full minutes of a 5v3. That doesn't happen often on winning nights. Pens needed to get one there and failed to do so.
  • Weird night for Fleury with the early injury knocking him out. The next puck he saw was bouncing like crazy, a bit unfortunate to go in. Then he makes saves on the next 39 shots he sees before an ugly GWG against. Definitely an unusual night.
  • How about a Crosby - Conor Sheary - Justin Schultz start for OT? Lotta speed there, I like it. Followed with Malkin - Bryan Rust - Dumoulin. Worked better than putting Pouliot out there next.

1 goal in the last 2 games without this guy

Pens get their first 2 day break since Dec 6-7 and get to go back home to see NYR on Tuesday night. Down a couple key defensemen, they need the break and rest and to find a way to get some better breakouts, zone exits to be able to generate more sustained offense.