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Penguins/Maple Leafs Recap: Pittsburgh’s winning streak over, Toronto wins

The Pens don’t have a lot going for them, and fall 4-1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images


It’s the same lines and lineup for the Penguins that has been working so well as of late with Pittsburgh entering tonight’s game on a five-game winning streak. But it’s a new goalie with Casey DeSmith taking over the crease for the second half of a back-to-back.

Here’s how Toronto enters the night, also opting to use their backup goalie since they are on the second night of a b-2-b themselves.

First period

It didn’t take long for the red hot Mitch Marner to extend his NHL leading point streak to 16 games. Just 40 seconds in, the Pens exhibit a slow and bad change when the puck doesn’t get deep enough and Auston Matthews quickly gets it up for a clean breakaway for Marner. That’s easy money for him to skate in, deke DeSmith and tuck the puck into the open net on his forehand. 1-0 Toronto right out the gates.

Crosby goes wild on the bench and then leaves to the locker-room for a bit. He misses a Pittsburgh power play but eventually returns. Without him, they don’t score.

Toronto gets a power play off an o-zone faceoff win, which would be a factor all period for their dominance in the circle. The Leafs won 10/15 draws, including seemingly most of the important ones. The Pens’ PK kills it off.

Shots after one are 17-5 Toronto. Despite that lop-sided total, it doesn’t feel like the Pens are that down, scoring chances are 8-6 TOR and high danger chances were 5-3 TOR through 20. It certainly wasn’t a sharp start for the Pens, who have been chasing this game right since the beginning.

Second period

Toronto gets another power play early and keeps pushing up their advantage on the shot tracker, but can’t score on it.

The Pens get a close call when Rickard Rakell finds a loose puck from a Jake Guentzel shot and taps it in, but the ref blew the play dead seconds before after losing sight of it.

Toronto scores again, they dump the puck in and Marcus Pettersson makes a buddy pass to his partner who is actually under more duress than Pettersson. Marner swoops in and trips Letang down, stealing the puck and quickly centering it for Pontus Holmberg. Holmberg snipes it to the top shelf and it’s a 2-0 game.

The Leafs make it 3-0 after winning some puck battles and getting the Pens to chase them around the zone a bit. Auston Matthews eventually gets the puck behind the net and feeds William Nylander who wisely lurks just beyond where Brian Dumoulin (sigh) can get to.

Shots in the second are 10-10 but the Pens found this game slipping away from them on the scoreboard and just don’t seem to have the juice to compete for their third game in four nights and fifth in eight.

Third period

Guentzel takes a slashing penalty just six seconds into the period and that’s not going to help the team get back into this one. Luckily the PK comes through again.

Pittsburgh finally catches a fortunate bounce and gets a break to gets on the board with 8:22 remaining. Guentzel is attempting to pass back to the point but the puck strikes a Maple Leaf and deflects down to Rakell. Rakell does really well to just quickly release the gift and the Pens have a goal. 3-1.

Any hopes of a comeback are dashed pretty quickly, Matthews gets his 10th goal of the season to push Toronto out to a 4-1 lead. Michael Bunting makes this one happen by out-working almost every Penguin on the ice, getting tripped by Jeff Petry and still making the pass over for Matthews.

And like that, the Pittsburgh winning streak ends at five by the same team they lost to the last time they lost, the Leafs.

Some thoughts

  • It was tough not to think about Borje Salming during this game. It was just two weeks ago to the day that Salming took to the ice pre-game in Toronto and received a warm welcome before the last Pens/Maple Leafs game. Salming passed away two days ago after a long battle with ALS. Nasty disease and certainly the whole hockey world mourns the loss and will cherish the memories of the Swedish and Maple Leaf legend.
  • Not sure why Crosby hit the eject button and peeled off Matthews and went to the bench on the first shift. From the looks of his reaction on the bench of kicking the boards several times in frustration, apparently he didn’t understand or like that decision either. Did he ding himself doing doing? Or break part of his skate and need repairs? Very bizarre sequence all around there.
  • While last night was like an 0-for-4 power play night that in the context and scheme of things didn’t look or feel so bad for the Pens, it was a much different story tonight. They had glorious opportunities in the first and second periods when they badly needed a goal and couldn’t find it.
  • Penalty kill has been doing great as of late, that’s definitely helping the special teams battle not totally spiral out of control.
  • The refs weren’t the reason the Pens lost tonight, but they sure didn’t help things. They didn’t blow the whistle when they should have with the net off its moorings in the first period, then decided to blow a whistle when they shouldn’t have with the puck not covered by the goalie. The lack of call on Marner tripping Letang leading to a turnover in a critical area is a decision on another night that might have gone a different way with a different crew eyeing it. But it wasn’t to be tonight. It wasn’t a game the Pens deserved to win anyways, but sometimes the bounces and calls aren’t in your favor either some nights.
  • If anyone sees Bryan Rust, maybe remind him the season has started?
  • Gotta give Toronto a lot of credit they were without their three most talented defenders due to injury but you would never know it based on tonight. Good game for them.

Not the Pens night in this one, but the good news is they get a couple days off and to stay at home for a while to try and hopefully work on their power play and get some of those players in gear.