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Penguins-Leafs Recap: Penguins Cool Down Red-Hot Maple Leafs in Thrilling 5-3 Victory

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The Penguins and Maple Leafs clashed to gain two valuable points in the middle of a hotly contested playoff race.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pregame

The Penguins (33-22-4) welcomed the Maple Leafs (35-19-5) to town for a Saturday night showdown. Both teams are playing great hockey, as the Leafs entered the night with a 5-game winning streak and a 9-1 record in their last 10 games, while the Pens boasted a 3-game win streak and an 8-1-1 record in their last ten.

Lineups:

The Penguins’ twitter account announced right before puck drop that Justin Schultz was scratched due to illness. On the flip side, a positive performance from Matt Hunwick boosts whatever trade value he has.

1st Period

Matt Murray, ladies ang gentlemen. Robbing Zach Hyman early on.

Three-and-a-half minutes in, Carl Hagelin got the scoring going. With 14 points in his last 17 games, Hags received the nice pass from Bryan Rust to give the Pens an early 1-0 lead.

Minutes later, Connor Brown sniped the puck from the slot to tie the game at 1.

With nine minutes to go in the first period, Tyler Bozak was gifted with a huge rebound and backhanded the bouncing puck into the net to give the Leafs the lead.

One minute later, Evgeni Malkin would answer right back for the Penguins. Malkin was able to settle down a bouncing puck and push it past Frederik Andersen to retie the the game at 2.

Congrats to Malkin for this achievement! He is truly deserving of being the NHL’s 101st all-time greatest player!

The remaining time in the period dwindled down to triple zeros to put a temporary halt to this frantic action. Both teams went into the first intermission with four total goals scored, two apiece.

2nd Period

Four minutes into the period, Sidney Crosby looked to have scored the go-ahead goal, but after review, it was determined that Crosby illegally kicked the puck in behind Andersen. The tie game continued.

Moments later, Zach Aston-Reese would legally put the Pens ahead 3-2. Aston-Reese kicked the puck to his stick and capitalized on the rebound to backhand it home.

Through the first six minutes of the period, the Penguins dominated the shots and scoring chances categories with 8 and 5 respectively. The Leafs, on the other hand, had 0.

With thirteen minutes to go in the period, Jake Guentzel was sent to the sin bin for tripping Kasperi Kapanen. The penalty would be killed two minutes later.

With five minutes remaining in the game, Ian Cole was cited for slashing Tyler Bozak. Patrick Marleau got the equalizer for the Leafs on the power-play.

The Penguins would receive their first power-play of the night with 1:42 left in the period. Nikita Zaitsev was the guilty party for interfering on Aston-Reese. The period would end with the game tied at 3 and the Penguins taking 11 seconds of carryover power-play time into the final frame.

Some stats after two:

3rd Period

After a sluggish start to the period, Olli Maatta would score the go-ahead goal from the blue line.

Near the halfway point of the period, Olli Maatta and Zach Hyman collided very violently into the boards behind Matt Murray. Hyman, incredibly, was able to get up and skate off under his own power.

With 3:24 left in the game, Bryan Rust gave Pittsburgh the insurance goal to put the finishing touches on this wildly entertaining game.

The final horn would blow and the Penguins would get the win by a score of 5-3.

Final Thoughts

  • The game’s billing did not disappoint. Both teams were flying all over the ice and scoring goals from the first puck drop to the last horn. This would be quite the playoff matchup, eh?
  • Getting contributions from Zach Aston-Reese, Carl Hagelin, and Rust is always a great thing to see. Yeah, depth scoring!
  • Nice to see Geno get rewarded with 900 career points with the incredible roll he has been on as of late.
  • The 10-game home winning streak now extends to 11 for the Penguins. Nothing is better than home cooking.
  • The Pens will round out this back-to-back set tomorrow night when they travel to Columbus to battle the Blue Jackets.