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Maple Leafs come up empty on power play, fall short against Penguins 2-1

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

TORONTO - Power plays gave the Toronto Maple Leafs ample opportunity to break open a tight game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

When they couldn't take advantage, the Penguins cashed in to beat the Maple Leafs 2-1 Friday night at Air Canada Centre.

The Leafs went 0 for 6 on the power play after scoring three goals that way Wednesday night against the Boston Bruins.

Pascal Dupuis scored twice and Sidney Crosby reclaimed sole possession of the NHL lead in points with an assist for the Penguins (11-3-1), who responded from a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of the New York Rangers earlier in the week.

Cody Franson scored a third-period goal for the Leafs (9-6-2), who visit the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night. Jonathan Bernier was solid in stopping 39 of the 41 shots he faced.

Penguins backup goaltender Thomas Greiss made 30 saves, including 13 in the third period.

This was a better showing for the Leafs than the first time the Penguins visited this season, a 5-2 loss on Oct. 11 that led to a fan throwing his blue and white sweater on the ice.

This was the annual Hall of Fame game held in conjunction with induction weekend. The class of 2014 — Dominik Hasek, Peter Forsberg, Mike Modano, Rob Blake, the late Pat Burns (represented by widow Line) and referee Bill McCreary — was honoured in a pre-game ceremony.

The teams wore Hockey Hall of Fame patches on their jerseys and decals on their helmets. Line Gignac Burns dropped the puck for the ceremonial faceoff between captains Crosby and Dion Phaneuf.

Once the action got under way, the Penguins controlled play for much of the first period. Their emphasis on better puck possession under first-year coach Mike Johnston was obvious as they had it in the Leafs' zone more often than not.

The Leafs only had five shots in the first but several of them were high quality.

A penalty-filled second period gave way to plenty of chances for the Leafs to break the scoreless tie. A roughing penalty on Pittsburgh defenceman Robert Bortuzzo for clipping Nazem Kadri led to a lot of sustained pressure but no goal.

Out of the box, Bortuzzo set up the Penguins' first goal by holding the puck in the offensive zone and getting it to Brandon Sutter. Sutter found Christian Ehrhoff for a one-timer at the point, and Dupuis deflected it past Bernier at 17:18 of the second.

Just 40 seconds later, Evgeni Malkin thought he had his seventh goal of the season but just his second at even strength. With an open net to shoot at it, the 2004 No. 2 pick didn't get all of it but still thought he had it — except Bernier got his glove up in time.

Bernier was all but helpless 15 seconds into the third period when Dupuis made it 2-0. Reunited on the top line, Crosby found Dupuis for a one-timer between the circles that Chris Kunitz set the screen on.

Franson cut the deficit to one 6:32 into the third by collecting Crosby's failed clear and firing a high shot past Greiss that seemed to catch the goaltender unprepared. The defenceman extended his point streak to six games with his third goal of the season.

Phaneuf created a brouhaha at 17:46 of the third when he made a textbook shoulder to chest hit on Patric Hornqvist along the side boards. Malkin took exception to it and fought the Leafs captain but put his team on the penalty kill as a result.

Again the Leafs were unable to score on the power play.

Notes — Penguins centre Brandon Sutter left the game in the third period after taking a slapshot to the face from Toronto's Roman Polak. Sutter, who wears a protective visor, was able to skate off the ice with some assistance. ... James Reimer is expected to start for the Leafs on Saturday night in Buffalo. Marc-Andre Fleury will get the nod for the Penguins against the Rangers. ... Craig Adams was playing his 303rd consecutive game for the Penguins. ... The Leafs before the game announced Borje Salming would be the next player to be part of Legends Row outside Air Canada Centre. ... The pre-game ceremony included several Hall of Famers: Salming, Clark Gilles, Dino Ciccarelli, Geraldine Heaney, Jacques Laperriere, Vladislav Tretiak, Lanny McDonald and Mats Sundin. Not surprisingly ex-Leafs captain Sundin got the biggest ovation.

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