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Five Takeaways - Leafs vs Penguins - 03/10/18

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday at Air Canada Centre:

by Adam Proteau Proteautype / MapleLeafs.com

1. Kapanen finishes off pretty setups from Leivo, Bozak, gives Leafs first lead. Toronto entered the night seeking to end a four-game losing streak, and although they were outshot 11-7 by the Penguins in the opening period, the Leafs' shooters proved opportunistic in the first 20 minutes: winger Kasperi Kapanen opened the scoring at the 9:10 mark after forwards Josh Leivo and Tyler Bozak helped create the opportunity with excellent passes. Leivo's helper came first and was a no-look beauty to Bozak; and Bozak generated what would be the primary assist by pulling Pens goalie Tristan Jarry out of position and sliding the puck to Kapanen and a wide-open net.

Kapanen wound up with his fifth goal of the season, but the vision and pinpoint accuracy that went into setting him up all alone was especially impressive.  

2. Kadri nets pair of goals late in first and midway through second to put Buds ahead by three. Centre Nazem Kadri has been one of Toronto's more productive players on offence lately, and the veteran scored twice in a 12-minute stretch to give his team a 3-0 lead. He got his first of the night with 47 seconds left in the first, deflecting blueliner Morgan Rielly's shot into Pittsburgh's net for his 25th goal of the year; goal No. 26 was registered 11:35 into the second frame - with the Buds on the power play - as winger Mitch Marner and Rielly respectively garnered the primary and secondary assists.

Once again, the Leafs weren't overly dynamic with the puck in the second period - Toronto was outshot by the Pens 21-9 at one point in the frame - but Kadri's second goal came on the Buds' second shot of the period and put the home team ahead by three. Kadri has eight goals in his past 11 games and is now within reach of hitting the 30-goal plateau for the second straight season.
 

3. After disputed and rejected Penguins goal, Marner scores on powerplay to extend Leafs' lead before second intermission. The Penguins believed they'd cut Toronto's lead to 3-1 when defenceman Brian Dumoulin cut in sharply to the left of Frederik Andersen and put the puck in as he skated across the ice and past the Leafs goaltender. However, the officials on the ice immediately waved off the goal and sent Dumoulin to the penalty box for goalie interference at 17:56 of the second.

On the ensuing man advantage, Marner registered his 19th goal of the year - tying his total in his rookie campaign - to give the Buds a 4-0 lead heading into the third. The goalie interference call will be a point of debate coming out of this game, but Leafs Nation is well-aware goalie interference calls that have gone against their team this year; it's a subjective process that clearly can never make everyone happy, but the reality was Toronto benefitted from it and came into the third with a sizeable lead.
 

4. Potent Pens score twice late in regulation, but Andersen hangs tough, ties win total he posted with Leafs last season. Pittsburgh's deep, veteran squad wasn't going to meekly finish out the third period of a game in which they trailed by four goals. To the contrary: the Pens fired a game-high 17 shots on Andersen in the third, and broke Andersen's bid for a shutout when centre Sidney Crosby scored his 23rd goal of the season with 3:36 left. The Penguins produced one more goal 1:08 after Crosby scored - winger Patrick Hornqvist posted his 19th of the year - but with their net empty, they couldn't come up with two more markers to send the game to overtime, and Buds forward Patrick Marleau netted his 21st goal of the season to restore Toronto's three-goal lead.

Andersen wound up turning aside 38 of 40 shots to record his 33rd win of the season in his 57th game this year. That tied the number of wins Andersen produced in his first year with Toronto last season, and with 13 games remaining in the 2017-18 campaign, it's very likely he'll set a new personal best very soon.
 

5. Special teams extra special as Toronto ends losing streak, sets new mark for consecutive home wins. The Pens were the NHL's most dangerous power play team entering Saturday's action, but despite having three man advantages, they were unable to score on any of them. Meanwhile, the Leafs scored on both power plays they had, and as a result, Toronto earned its franchise-record 10th consecutive home victory.

The Buds can now enjoy a three-day break between games - with their next one coming Wednesday night at the ACC against the Dallas Stars - confident after winning their season series against the defending-Stanley Cup-champion Penguins 2-1. The Leafs needed Andersen to be sharp Saturday, but regular viewers of Andersen know Andersen regularly is sharp. And thanks to Kadri's 19th career multi-goal game and a three-assist night from Rielly - a total that pushed Rielly to 41 points, the first time in his NHL career he's hit and passed the 40-point level - Toronto was able to outgun and outlast an extremely talented opponent.

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