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Five Takeaways - Leafs at Penguins - 11/12/16

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday at PPG Paints Arena:

by Adam Proteau / MapleLeafs.com

Video: TOR@PIT: Hyman's redirect finds the twine

1. Hyman heating up, scores second in as many nights to give Leafs game's first lead. One night after scoring his first goal of the season and the game-winning marker in Toronto's 6-3 win over the Flyers, winger Zach Hyman didn't waste much time to register his second, tipping a shot from blueliner Matt Hunwick past Penguins goalie Matt Murray just 1:22 into the contest to give the Leafs the first lead of the night. 

Hyman tipped the shot as he was at one of his familiar spots on the ice - right in front of Murray - and getting traffic in front of goalies is something that hasn't always been easy for Toronto this season. But playing against the defending-Stanley-Cup-champion Pens, it sent a message the Buds were willing to be physical to create offence.

2. Toronto plays with fire giving high-octant Pens man advantages, gets burned for tying goal. The Leafs have an improved penalty kill unit this season, but even the teams that are best at preventing an opponent from scoring on the power play wind up surrendering a goal while down a man - and when you give a team like Pittsburgh enough chances with the man advantage, they'll eventually make you regret it.

That's precisely what happened when Toronto took its second minor penalty of the game at 2:21 of the second period. The Penguins put their power play - tied for fourth in the NHL with the Leafs entering Saturday's action at 25 percent efficiency - to work, and star centre Evgeni Malkin scored his eighth goal of the year at the 3:06 mark to even the score at a goal apiece. The Buds gave the Pens another power play shot late in the middle frame and nearly scored on three different shorthanded opportunities on that penalty kill, but Pittsburgh has so many offensive weapons with which to hurt you, you can't keep on giving them openings and expect to prevail.

3. Late-period defensive letdown puts Pittsburgh ahead just seconds before second intermission. Toronto gained a bit of momentum after killing off their second penalty of the second period, but also fell back into the habit of trading scoring chances with the opposition rather than limiting them. And although goalie Frederik Andersen made several stellar stops late in the frame, the Buds couldn't clear their zone and the Penguins took their first lead of the game at 19:42 on Chris Kunitz's second goal of the year.

The Buds have the ability to skate as quickly as the fastest team in the NHL - and the Pens certainly qualify as one of those squads - but they're still working at preventing opponents from getting second and third scoring chances close to the net, and Pittsburgh showed what can take place when they fail to.

4. Penguins don't hold back in final frame, take charge on pair of goals in brief span. In many ways, the Leafs outplayed the Penguins in the second period, but once the third began, it was a different story - and star centre Sidney Crosby was a key reason for the home team taking the game over.

The Pens captain had the primary assist on winger Bryan Rust's second goal of the season that put Pittsburgh up 3-1 at 6:58 of the third, and Crosby then added his 10th goal of the year at the 10:14 mark to put the Penguins up by three goals. Rebounding from that kind of deficit is difficult regardless of who your opponent is, but when that opponent is a team of Pittsburgh's calibre and can turn to a phenom like Crosby, it's next to impossible to come back and force an overtime.

5. Limiting shots on net still an area of concern for Leafs. In their win over the Flyers, Toronto was outshot 33-23, and in Saturday's game, the Penguins outshot the Leafs 49-34 (including by a 20-13 margin in the third period). Eighty-two shots on net in two games is a lot of work for Andersen, who has looked good for the grand majority of action of late. 

The Buds had allowed an average of 33.3 shots per game prior to Saturday's game, and despite the fact some of those shots come from the outside and are thus relatively easier for Andersen to stop, Toronto is near the bottom of the NHL in that category and needs to improve their showing in it sooner than later.

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