Skip to main content

Kessel scoreless but Penguins defeat Maple Leafs

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to struggle offensively, but Marc-Andre Fleury has not allowed them to sink.

Fleury made 26 saves to help the Penguins to a 2-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Consol Energy Center on Saturday.

It was Fleury's 324th win in 600 NHL regular-season games. He has surrendered one goal in the past two games, allowing Pittsburgh (2-3-0) to win each despite scoring a total of four goals.

"It was OK. We got two [goals], right?" said Fleury, who made 22 saves in a 2-0 win against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. "No, no. We'll be fine. It's a close game, but we didn't give them too much, so that's always a big help. But it will come. I'm not too worried about it."

The Penguins have not scored more than two goals in a game this season, and captain Sidney Crosby does not have a point through five games, matching the longest scoring drought of his NHL career.

The Maple Leafs (1-3-1) could not carry their momentum from a 6-3 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday to a second win in two nights.

"We had them in a one-goal game the whole game," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. "I thought we ran out of gas a bit. Back-to-back nights, we didn't have as much juice in the second half of the game as we should've had, and that's all part of it. … I was proud of our effort. Lots of good things, but we can be better.

"We can get this team to win every night. I really believe that."

The Penguins scored twice in 39 seconds to take an early two-goal advantage. Evgeni Malkin's second goal in as many games came when he drove past Maple Leafs forward Mark Arcobello by the boards and fired a wrist shot from the bottom of the right faceoff circle by Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier's blocker at 5:49 of the first period.

"I try. I try to do my best," Malkin said. "It's not a pretty win tonight, but it's a great game. Every game is important for confidence, for the team. I feel pretty normal right now. Every game is better, for myself too and my line (with David Perron and Patric Hornqvist) too. There is still a lot of work in practice."

After Penguins forward Sergei Plotnikov's shot was blocked, defenseman Olli Maatta sent a slap shot through Bernier's five-hole at 6:28. The goal was Maatta's first since his only goal of the 2014-15 season, scored Oct. 23 against the Detroit Red Wings.

Bernier made 31 saves but dropped to 0-3-0. He responded well after allowing the two early goals but said he has to perform dependably from the start.

"I have to be better for my team right off the bat," Bernier said. "The one on Malkin, that's my goal, for sure. ... I just have to track it better. I kind of took my body away from it. … The game wasn't over, and I have confidence in this group that we can come back and we played hard. I thought we deserved a better result."

Toronto forward Leo Komarov cut Pittsburgh's lead in half with his third goal in two nights. Komarov deflected a slap shot from defenseman Jake Gardiner by Fleury with 6:51 remaining in the first.

Phil Kessel failed to score in his first game against his former team. His best chance came in the first minute of the second period, when Crosby sent a pass through Gardiner to Kessel in front of the Toronto crease. Kessel went forehand to backhand and had Bernier beat, but his backhand shot hit the outside of the net.

The Penguins power play continued to struggle and has failed to score on any of its 17 opportunities. Pittsburgh went 0-for-5 with the man-advantage Saturday.

The Maple Leafs were 0-for-4 on the power play.

Penguins coach Mike Johnston said there will be changes made to the power play. Pittsburgh allowed several shorthanded opportunities to Toronto, something the Penguins' second unit was responsible for, Johnston said.

"Tonight, there were dangers," Johnston said. "I thought it was the other unit that didn't give us any help on the power play, which I expected them to generate some momentum. The [Nick]Bonino, [Chris] Kunitz, [Daniel] Sprong, Perron unit. Be a shooting unit. Be a shooting unit. Give us some momentum when they're out there.

"They were the ones that gave up the shorthanded opportunities. So, we do have to get our power play in sync. We know that and we're looking at all options."

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.