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At the Rink: Penguins at Maple Leafs

by Mike Brophy

TORONTO -- Peter Holland will take the ice time any way he can get it.

The Toronto Maple Leafs center approached coach Randy Carlyle recently and asked if he could start killing penalties.

Carlyle saw this as an opportunity to give more meaningful minutes to a player who was chosen in the first round of the 2009 NHL Draft (No. 15). With a three-game goal streak he'll carry into the game Friday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Holland is starting to find his game at the NHL level.

Not many players have the gumption to ask the coach for added duty, but Holland felt it was a risk worth taking.

"Yeah, I mean you never really want to say to your coach that you want more ice time, but it was one of those things where I noticed we have so many skilled guys on the power play and I probably wasn't going to get a shot at that, so I felt killing penalties was an opportunity for me to get an extra minute or two in the game and help me stay mentally into the game too," Holland said. "If you are playing a bottom-six role you don't get as much ice, and this is a way to get a couple more touches of the puck and keep my confidence up."

Carlyle said there was no hesitation on his part to include Holland in his group of penalty-killing forwards and he likes what he has seen from the 23-year-old Toronto native thus far.

"With Peter, the skill was always something that was there," Carlyle said. "He hasn't had the opportunity to play the minutes that he is playing now, but again that is the chicken before the egg theory. Should he have gotten those minutes, or is the reason he is getting the minutes because he is playing better. We want to give the players the opportunity to display their skill set or to do something that is a little out of character. Penalty killing seems to have invigorated him and given him confidence."

Three goals in three games has boosted Holland to four goals and eight points on the season.

"The biggest thing about those three games is that we are starting to get the wins," Holland said. "At the end of the day it's the two points that you want to get, but any time you can get on the score sheet it obviously feels good."

The Penguins, meanwhile, lost 5-0 to the New York Rangers on Tuesday, a defeat that snapped a seven-game winning streak. As a result of the loss, the team will juggle its lines to face the Maple Leafs with right wing Patric Hornqvist dropping down to the second line with center Evgeni Malkin and left wing Nick Spaling while Pascal Dupuis moves up to the top line with center Sidney Crosby and left wing Chris Kunitz. Crosby has not scored in his past six games.

For Hornqvist, playing with Malkin instead of Crosby is not exactly a demotion.

"That's what makes this team so good; we have Sid and Geno who are two of the top players in the world," Hornqvist said. "They make everybody around them so much better."

Hornqvist said his role does not change playing with Malkin instead of Crosby.

"I can't change the way I play," he said. "I have to keep doing the same things; going hard to the net trying to find those second and third chances and being that sparkplug."

Here are the projected lineups:

PENGUINS

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis

Nick Spaling - Evgeni Malkin - Patric Hornqvist

Beau Bennett - Brandon Sutter - Steve Downie

Zach Sill - Marcel Goc - Craig Adams

Paul Martin - Kris Letang

Christian Ehrhoff - Robert Bortuzzo

Rob Scuderi - Simon Despres

Thomas Greiss

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Blake Comeau

Injured: Olli Maatta (thyroid)

MAPLE LEAFS

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel

Daniel Winnik - Nazem Kadri - David Clarkson

Leo Komarov - Peter Holland - Mike Santorelli

Richard Panik - Trevor Smith - Josh Leivo

Dion Phaneuf - Cody Franson

Jake Gardiner - Roman Polak

Morgan Rielly - Stephane Robidas

Jonathan Bernier

James Reimer

Scratched: Matt Frattin

Injured: David Booth (broken foot), Joffrey Lupul (broken hand), Brandon Kozun (ankle)

Status report: Comeau, who was feeling the effects of the flu, will be a game-time decision. If he plays Zach Sill will likely be scratched. … The Maple Leafs are expected to go with the same lineup that beat the Boston Bruins 6-1 on Wednesday. Booth has been skating with the team. He broke his foot in the preseason and has yet to play a game.

Who's hot: Kessel has four goals in his past four games and is tied for fifth in the NHL with 10 goals. … Adams will pass Jordan Staal for the second-highest consecutive games played streak in Penguins franchise history when he appears in his 303rd in a row.

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