Penguins Uninspired in 7-3 Loss to Leafs

The Pittsburgh Penguins found themselves in very unfamiliar territory on Saturday night as the Mellon Arena’s “standing-room only” crowd showered them with boos during a sloppy, undisciplined, and uninspired 7-3 loss against the Toronto Maple Leafs.  With the Penguins being outshot 33-13 through the first 2-periods, Marc-Andre Fleury was given little help from his teammates when he needed it most.  Fleury ended up giving up 5-goals, including 2-while the Penguins were short-handed, before being pulled in favor of Dany Sabourin after the 2nd intermission.  Evgeni Malkin’s 1st period goal and 3rd period assist were just enough to negate two sloppy turnovers he committed that led to a pair of Maple Leafs’ goals.  Just to prove that when things go bad they go horribly bad, Eric Godard waited too long to engage the Leafs physically in an attempt to rouse some life in his team.  When Godard finally did drop the gloves, he was left standing alone like a jilted bride at the altar as the Leafs’ Andre Deveaux smartly refused to oblige.  Godard’s actions sent him flying solo into the penalty box and resulted in a Maple Leaf’s powerplay goal to give them a 5-1 lead late in the 2nd.  Early in the 3rd, when the Penguins still had a remote chance of a comeback, Sidney Crosby’s frustrations boiled over in the form of an undisciplined cross-check and the Maple Leafs again made the Penguins pay with a powerplay goal to make it unrecoverable at 7-2.

In the 1st period, the Leafs got out to a great start by peppering Marc-Andre Fleury at every chance they could.  The aggressive play gave the Leafs a 16-6 advantage in shots in the period and put the Penguins firmly on their heels.  At 6:56, call-up Ryan Stone took the game’s first penalty on a 2-minute roughing call.  In the ensuing powerplay, the Leafs converted on a backhander by Dominic Moore, with assists by Pavel Kubina and Tomas Kaberle.  At 9:49, Evgeni Malkin stepped onto the ice and took a nice up-ice pass from Miroslav Satan, crossed the blueline and walked in to beat Vesa Toskala with a nifty backhand maneuver.  Mark Eaton picked up the other assist on the play to tie it 1-1.  The Leafs needed just a little over a minute to regain the lead as Jeremy Williams snapped his 4th goal of the season past Fleury at 11:03.  Jason Blake and Tomas Kaberle racked up the assists.  Then again at 12:56, the Leafs scored again to make it 3-1 as Jonas Frogren’s slap shot got past Fleury again.  Nik Antropov and Matt Stajan contributed on the play and earned the assists.  The Penguins ended up going 0-for-1 on the powerplay and 0-for-1 on the penalty kill in the period.

In the 2nd period, the Leafs continued their offensive onslaught as they outshot the Penguins 17-7.  Things went bad 8:31 into the period when Evgeni Malkin opted to dangerously carry the puck right in front of his own net in traffic rather than go around behind it.  Realizing he made a bad decision, he tried to dump the puck off to a Penguins defensemen.  Instead, he put the puck squarely on the tape of Niklas Hagman right in front of the Penguins’ net.  Hagman wasted no time roofing thepuck over the shoulder of a shell-shocked and surprised Fleury to make it 4-1.  At 14:39, Eric Godard dropped the gloves but was turned down for the dance as mentioned above.  At 16:20, with 19-seconds left on the ensuing powerplay, Pavel Kubina made the Penguins pay as his slap shot found the twine behind Fleury.  Nik Antropov and Tomas Kaberle picked up the assists on the play to make it 5-1 Leafs.  Then at 19:40, Matt Cooke was on the receiving end of a punch to the head by Jaime Sifers.  A scuffle ensued that sent both Cooke and Sifers to the box for roughing, with Sifers getting the extra two for initiating the dust-up with the shot to Cooke’s head.  The Penguins failed to score in the 20-second of thier powerplay at the end of the 2nd, and were 1-for-2 on the penalty kill in the period.  The Penguins late powerplay carried over into the 3rd, but Marc-Andre Fleury would watch it from the bench as he was pulled in favor of Dany Sabourin. 

In the 3rd period, it looked like the Penguins might be able to turn the sinking ship around as they quickly scored on the powerplay just 58-seconds in.  Petr Sykora redirected a pass from Evgeni Malkin into the net behind Vesa Toskala to make it 5-2 with plenty of time left for a miracle comeback.  Kris Letang was also in on the action with an assist.  However, at 5:23 the Leafs eliminated any hail mary momentum that the Penguins were trying to build as they again found the back of the net on a snap shot by Alexei Ponikarovsky that found its way past Dany Sabourin.  Matt Stajan assisted on the Leafs’ 6th goal of the evening to restore the Penguins’ 4-goal defecit.  At 6:19, Sidney Crosby flexed his lumber a few times into a Leafs’ player and earned a seat in the penalty box.  The Leafs responded by rubbing salt in an already sore wound as Nik Antropov wristed their 7th goal of the night into the net.  Alexei Ponikarovsky and Jaime Sifers picked up the assists.  At 9:50, Eric Godard decided he had had enough and he also cross-checked a Leafs’ player and took a game misconduct so that he could get showered up early.  At 17:01, Petr Sykora tipped in a token goal for the Penguins off from a shot by Alex Goligoski to end the scoring at 7-3.  But there was a little more action before this one ended.  At 17:38, Ruslan Fedotenko briefly lost his mind as he took on the much bigger Andre Deveaux.  A surprised Deveaux decided not to turtle away this time like he had earlier with Godard and gave Rusty a few good shots before the linesmen came to his rescue.  Then, as if a 7-3 drubbing wasn’t enough, Brooks Orpik took a nasty stick to the face from Antropov at 18:08 that sent him to the ice with blood running out of his mouth.  The resulting 1:52 of a 4-minute powerplay was fruitless for the Penguins.  The Penguins did manage to outshoot the Leafs 10-7 in the 3rd, but it was utterly useless.     

The Penguins will have tomorrow to regroup and get their collective act together before heading to Buffalo on Monday to take on the Sabres and then back to Pittsburgh on Tuesday night to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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