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RECAP: Penguins Fight Back, Fall Just Short in Loss to Leafs

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After battling with the two New York teams earlier in the week, the Penguins rounded out the week with a visit from the high-flying Maple Leafs.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Pittsburgh Penguins Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports

Pregame

Over the last 24 hours, the Penguins recalled Dominik Simon and Kevin Czuczman, while demoting Frank Corrado. With injuries to Justin Schultz and Tom Kuhnhackl, the Penguins rolled out this lineup:

With a .70 PPG in WB/S, Simon could prove to be a valuable asset to the bottom six, if given an extended look with the team.

And the Maple Leafs looked like this:

1st Period

90 seconds in, Connor Brown got the scoring going early for the Leafs. Brown was all alone in what was a defensive mess for the Penguins.

Seconds after that, James van Riemsdyk buried another one. The Leafs notched 2 goals within the first 2 minutes of the game. The goals were scored nineteen seconds apart from each other.

Toronto was called for too many men on the ice, which would give Pittsburgh the chance to cut the deficit. The Penguins got some good shots through to Frederik Andersen, but couldn't find the back of the net here.

With seven minutes left in the period, Tyler Bozak won an easy net-front scrum to give the Leafs a 3-0 lead.

A late-period interference penalty was called on Toronto’s Andreas Borgman, giving Pittsburgh another power-play. The penalty was killed and the period subsequently ended. Yuck.

2nd Period

After a rough twenty minutes, Mike Sullivan chose to rest Tristan Jarry for the remainder of this game, now opting for Casey DeSmith.

Kris Letang was called for tripping Patrick Marleau just two minutes into the period. The Penguins would successfully kill the penalty.

After the kill, Olli Maatta was driven into the boards by Dominic Moore. Maatta would leave the ice rather gingerly, and the Penguins were awarded with another power-play. Maatta would soon return to the ice, but the Leafs were able to keep their shutout intact.

After very little to write home about, the Penguins finally broke the ice with a little over five minutes left in the period. Riley Sheahan scored on a 2-on-1 and a beautiful pass from Dominik Simon.

Toronto’s Zach Hyman was soon called for high-sticking Carter Rowney. Much like the previous power-plays on the night, the Penguins were getting a fair amount of shots on net and this time around, Evgeni Malkin made Andersen pay, as the lead was cut to 1.

Seconds later, Tyler Bozak would respond for the Leafs. The goal’s validity was questioned with the call of a high stick, but after a quick review, the goal stood and 22 seconds after Malkin’s goal, the Leafs had regained a 2-goal lead.

The second period would come to an end soon after and the Penguins would leave the ice with some life ahead of the final frame.

3rd Period

Early on in the period, Patric Hornqvist took a redirected puck into his ear and would go into the dressing room for some repairs. He would not return to the game.

The Penguins spent much of the period trying to reignite the flame they had near the end of the 2nd period.

Much of the period devoid of any noteworthy action, but Sidney Crosby would get the Penguins back to a one-goal game with 2:48 to go. With a great stick lift from Simon and slick pass from Letang, the puck would find the stick of Crosby to get the game to 4-3.

Unfortunately, time was not on the Penguins’ side this time around. The clock would wind down and the Maple Leafs would take this one by a score of 4-3.

Final Thoughts

  • After a horrid start to the game, the Penguins found ways to show off their resilience once again. However, the resilience could not get them any points.
  • Kris Letang looked really good with the puck in the offensive zone tonight. The shot-first mentality was on display by him, as well as the rest of the defense.
  • In his first glimpse of NHL action this season, Dominik Simon looked pretty darn solid. A great assist on the Sheahan goal highlighted a very acceptable 2017 NHL debut.
  • Not all the goals could be attributed to Tristan Jarry tonight, but I would consider going with DeSmith again on Monday night against the Avalanche to give Jerry some more rest.