Penguins Roll Through Toronto 5-2

The Pittsburgh Penguins added another impressive win on Saturday night as they rolled through Toronto and beat the Maple Leafs 5-2 to remain unbeaten on the road so far this season.  Without even a hint that they were playing their 3rd game in 4 nights, the Penguins came out flying and quickly established complete dominance over the Leafs.  It appeared early on that the Leafs were intimidated by last season’s Stanley Cup Champions, and the Penguins took full advantage of that by feasting on the Leafs’ lack of confidence, tentative play and shaky goaltending.

The Penguins jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, after posting an offensive onslaught in which they outshot the Leafs 14-2.  The first goal came from Matt Cooke at 3:20 when he wristed the puck through a screen and over the shoulder of Leafs’ netminder Vesa Toskala.  The lone assist went to Tyler Kennedy who had stripped the puck from Jason Blake before masterfully moving it to Cooke in the slot.  The goal was Cooke’s 100th of his NHL career.  Then at 10:23, with the Penguins working on their first powerplay, Sergei Gonchar unleashed his signature blast from the point and beat Toskala five-hole.  Chris Kunitz and Ruslan Fedotenko picked the assists on the power play goal.  Despite initiating two fights in the first period (Orr/Godard and Mayers/Adams), the Maple Leafs were unable to establish anything on the ice.  In fact, the two fights were the only sign that the Maple Leafs even had a pulse in the first period.

In the 2nd period, it looked briefly like the Leafs might stumble their way back into the game as Jay Rosehill pushed in his first NHL goal from the side of the net to make it 2-1.  But immediately following the goal, Matt Stajan took a holding penalty and exposed the Leafs’ impotent penalty killing unit once again.  It only took 15-seconds for the dynamic duo of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to cash in on the opportunity, as Crosby collected a rebound off Malkin’s shot and netted it behind Toskala to make it 3-1.  Bill Guerin picked up the other assist on the Penguins’ 2nd power play goal of the night.  At 14:10, Jay Rosehill was called for a boarding Sergei Gonchar and the Pens’ lethal powerplay went to work yet again.  This time it took 21-seconds for the Penguins to convert as the two-headed monster again made short work of the Leaf’s penalty kill attempt.  Crosby used his backhand to deflect Malkin’s shot past the defeated Toskala to send the score up 4-1.  Sergei Gonchar picked up the additional assist on the Pens’ 3rd consecutive power play goal, now 3-for-3 on the night.  The Leafs actually outshot the Penguins 10-8 in the 2nd period, but their play was largely ineffective.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Toronto Maple Leafs
At the beginning of the 3rd, the Leafs converted on a quick goal by Niklas Hagman at 1:01 to cut the defecit to 2-goals.  The Penguins responded quickly, however, and snuffed out any spark that the Leafs may have generated when Jordan Staal ripped a shot into the top of the net at 2:08 to finish the scoring.  Evgeni Malkin picked up the lone assist on the play, his 3rd of the night.  The Penguins went on to outshoot the Leafs 11-8 in the period, and despite another fight between Mike Rupp and Jay Rosehill following the Staal goal, the Leafs were never able to generate any further momentum in the game.
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Evgeni Malkin led the scoring with 3-points (3A) in his second consecutive multi-point game, while Sidney Crosby (2G) and Sergei Gonchar (1G, 1A) each picked up 2-points.  Jordan Staal (1G), Matt Cooke (1G), Tyler Kennedy (1A), Bill Guerin (1A), Chris Kunitz (1A), and Ruslan Fedotenko (1A) all had a point each.  Jay McKee was a monster on defense, blocking 7-shots.  Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 18 of 20 shots for a 0.90 save percentage.  The Penguins were 34 for 63 in faceoffs for 54%.  After a miserable showing against Phoenix, Sidney Crosby mastered the faceoff circle winning 17 of 25 attempts (68%).  Dan Bylsma continued to work the line combinations with Malkin and Staal playing together while Adams replced Staal on the 3rd line.  This combination is likely to benefit both Staal and Malkin who seem to have monstrous chemistry playing together.  Crosby and Malkin also saw some time together at even strength, as did Crosby with the 4th line wingers. 

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Although it is still very early in the season, the Penguins currently lead the Eastern Conference and are tied for 1st in the league with the Calgary Flames.  The Penguins have a day off on Sunday before traveling to Ottawa for Monday night’s game against the Senators.

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