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Bernier, Maple Leafs top Penguins in shootout

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier wasn't expected to start against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, but he made 39 saves in a 3-2 shootout win at Consol Energy Center.

After Bernier and Penguins goalie Matthew Murray each allowed a goal in the first round, Bernier made two consecutive saves and Murray allowed PA Parenteau's game-winning goal over his pad in the second round.

Pittsburgh's David Perron and Toronto's Peter Holland scored the first-round goals.

"We found a way to win," Bernier said. "At the end of the day, we found a way to win and that's the bottom line … I felt pretty good. I had an off night last night, but if I look at my past six or seven games, I feel pretty good. I've got lots of wins and I'm making the saves at the right time. So, no confidence issue right now."

Bernier allowed six goals on 15 shots in a 6-3 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday. He started for a second consecutive night after James Reimer, who was expected to make his first start since Dec. 3 and made six saves in relief of Bernier on Tuesday, was ruled out a few hours before this game with tightness.

"He's played pretty good for us," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said of Bernier. "It didn't go his way last night. They filled the net on him on not many opportunities, but he was mentally strong today, came out and played real well."

Murray stopped Nazem Kadri, James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak each on a breakaway to maintain a 2-2 tie through the final two periods. Murray made 34 saves but could not earn his third NHL win in his fourth start.

"I'm the kind of guy that I always expect myself to make the save," Murray said. "That's just the personality I have and the kind of mentality I try to bring. So, I wouldn't say I surprised myself."

The Maple Leafs (14-15-7) handed the Penguins (17-15-4) a seventh loss in their past nine games. Pittsburgh allowed several breakaway chances or odd-man rushes, including on the power play.

"There were a few [defensive lapses]," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. "We talked on the bench about having more defensive awareness. Even though we're on the power play, we can't be so high-risk that we're giving up those types of chances."

Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf scored 3:51 into the first period. After Kadri sent the puck up the near wall, Phaneuf collected it along the blue line and prepared for a slap shot while drifting laterally. Phaneuf's shot made its way through a screen from Michael Grabner to give Toronto a 1-0 lead.

"I tried to get it past [Grabner], and that's our job, is to get it past the guy up top," Phaneuf said. "And our forwards down low … there's a great screen and it doesn't go in unless they're there. So, credit goes to them. It's my job to get it past the top guy, but that's a big-time screen and that's why the goal goes in."

Chris Kunitz tied the game 1-1 on Pittsburgh's first power play. Evgeni Malkin slid a pass through the slot to Sidney Crosby, who sent a pass by Morgan Rielly to Kunitz at Bernier's right. Kunitz deflected the pass past Bernier's stick 5:25 into the first.

Kunitz's goal was the Penguins' first in the first period since forward Conor Sheary's first NHL goal 8:20 into a 6-2 loss to the Boston Bruins on Dec. 18 (five games).

Defenseman Jake Gardiner gave the Maple Leafs a 2-1 lead 1:13 into the second period. Van Riemsdyk sent a wrist shot off Pittsburgh defenseman Brian Dumoulin's stick that hit Gardiner's glove before sailing over Murray's glove into the upper-right corner.

Crosby tied the game 2-2 with Malkin and Phaneuf each in the penalty box when he carried the puck into the offensive zone, set up in the middle of the right circle, and took a snap shot over Rielly's stick and Bernier's glove at 4:45 of the second.

"We had our chances. They certainly did too," Crosby said. "It's a tied hockey game and you know the next one's big. We had some power plays, one there late. We definitely have to find a way to get that go-ahead goal."

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