TORONTO — Marc-Andre Fleury recorded his 40th career shutout as the Pittsburgh Penguins handily defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-0 Saturday night in Phil Kessel
's return to the Air Canada Centre.
Toronto kept Kessel, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin off the scoresheet. But the Penguins stars had plenty of help in adding to the Leafs' early-season misery.
Chris Kunitz, Eric Fehr, Matt Cullen and Patric Hornqvist scored for Pittsburgh before a Halloween crowd of 19,197 that included Gumbie, Super Mario and Superman. Many left before the final whistle.
The Penguins outshot Toronto 32-21 as Fleury, who picked up an assist on Pens' fourth goal, improved his record against the Leafs to 18-9-3 with his first shutout against the club.
Pittsburgh (7-4-0) has won its last four games — the last three in regulation — and is 7-1-0 since losing its firs three games of the season.
The Leafs (1-7-2) are winless in six straight. It was another tough night for goalie Jonathan Bernier, who got no offensive support.
Kessel was booed whenever he touched the puck, with the volume increasing the longer he had it. Still he was in good company on the ice, seeing power-play time with Crosby and Malkin.
Kessel had just one shot in the first two periods, while reminding the home fans that defence is not his thing as he ineffectively waved his stick at attackers during a second-period shift that saw the Pens bottled up in their own end.
Kessel scored 181 goals and 395 points in 446 games for the Leafs. But he was dealt to Pittsburgh in July after president Brendan Shanahan said fans couldn't understand "people that go out and give half-efforts and that don't appear to enjoy playing here."
It took six minutes 33 seconds for the first shot of the night, with the Leafs doing the honours.
Pittsburgh opened the scoring seconds after Fleury made a good stop on a short-handed shot by Michael Grabner, who had been nicely set up by Tyler Bozak. On the ensuing rush, David Perron's shot trickled through Bernier's pads and Kunitz pounced, poking the puck over the line at 13:33.
It marked the ninth time in 10 games this season that Toronto conceded the first goal. The Leafs are 1-7-1 when they give up the first goal.
Winger Rich Clune, in his second outing for the Leafs, was assessed a five-minute major for boarding with some four minutes remaining in the period as he sent Rob Scuderi flying into the boards. The penalty lasted more than double his 2:21 ice time in the period, but the Penguins — who came into the game ranking 29th on the power play, above only Toronto — did little with it.
Fehr, in his Penguins debut, scored shorthanded at 2:34 of the second period. Bernier made the initial save but failed to control the rebound and the former Capital got to it, tucking it in as the Penguins penalty was announced over the PA. He also had an assist on the night.
Cullen made it 3-0 on a two-on-one at 10:29, using Sergei Plotnikov as a decoy before ripping a shot past Bernier at 10:29.
The Penguins rubbed salt in the wound at 4:31 of the third when a long shoot-in bounced off the back board and came right back in front to Hornqvist, who beat Bernier.
Crosby and Malkin came into the game with a combined 36 goals, 64 assists and 100 points against the Leafs.