LEAFS SCORE ALL-IMPORTANT FIRST GOAL
The Maple Leafs reversed recent fortunes on Saturday night in Pittsburgh, following through on a focus stressed at morning skate and scoring first against a Pens team that was leading the Metropolitan Division. It was John Tavares who first registered on the scoresheet Saturday, deflecting a Mitch Marner shot through traffic and past Penguins goalie Matt Murray: Video: TOR@PIT: Tavares redirects Marner's shot past Murray
Tavares' eighth goal of the season was the only goal of the opening frame, but the fact the Leafs had it and were leading coming out of the first intermission was an important development for Toronto as it focused on keeping intact its perfect road record (5-0-0).
MARLEAU SCORES SECOND IN AS MANY GAMES, LEAFS ADD TO ADVANTAGE
Leafs forward Patrick Marleau - who had his team's lone goal in a 2-1 loss to Dallas Thursday at Scotiabank Arena - understands that goals can come in bunches for any NHL player. And, just as Buds centre Nazem Kadri did last week, Marleau recorded his second marker in as many games. He also put Toronto ahead just 44 seconds into the middle period with his third score of the season, converting on a 2-on-1 break with Kasperi Kapanen. That provided the Leafs with energy, confidence and breathing room as they focused on shutting the Pens down for a second straight period.
Video: TOR@PIT: Marleau tucks gorgeous backhand past Murray
RIELLY'S RUSH LEADS TO LEAFS' SECOND GOAL IN SECOND PERIOD, 3-0 LEAD ON PENS
Toronto outshot Pittsburgh 13-9 in the first period, but the visitors continued their barrage of pucks at Murray in the second, outshooting the Pens 17-9. And that persistence led to the Leafs' third goal of the game - this one, from blueliner Morgan Rielly:
Video: TOR@PIT: Rielly rips a shot off the post and in
Rielly began the scoring sequence by passing the puck to teammate Kasperi Kapanen in their own zone, and he got it up to Tavares, who had it only momentarily before he made a perfect pass to a rushing Rielly. The D-man netted his fifth goal and 17th point of the season by beating Murray, and the Leafs went into the third period with a commanding three-goal advantage.
BUDS GET GOALS FROM BOTH SPECIAL TEAMS IN THIRD, RETURN TO WINNING TRACK
The third period wasn't a win for the Leafs in the shots-on-goal category - the Penguins outdid them 13-3 in the final 20 minutes of play - but Toronto cemented its win by getting goals from both of its special teams.
Rielly supplied the power play goal with his second of the night - a marker that came on the man advantage with 4:27 left in the third:
Video: TOR@PIT: Rielly scores PPG for second of the game
Then, with 20 seconds left in regulation time and Toronto on the penalty kill, Leafs winger Zach Hyman added the shorthanded goal (the Buds' first this season) to make it 5-0:
Video: TOR@PIT: Hyman scores shorthanded goal off defender
ANDERSEN STAYS STRONG VS. CROSBY & CO., REGISTERS FIRST SHUTOUT OF YEAR
Pittsburgh's offense is one of the league's most potent, but Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen didn't allow a goal to it to record his first shutout of the season, his 10th as a Leaf, and the 16th of his NHL career. The 29-year-old has settled in to, once again, be one of Toronto's most consistently great performers, and he's now helped deliver them back to the win column.