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Leafs seek first win against defending champs @NHLdotcom

PENGUINS (3-1-0) at MAPLE LEAFS (0-2-1)

Season Series: This is the first of four meetings between Toronto and Pittsburgh this season. Toronto won three of four last season, including both games at Air Canada Centre.

Big Story: It's Hockey Night in Canada and the nation's most criticized team is in desperate need of a win. The Penguins rebounded from their sub-par effort against Phoenix on Wednesday night with a resounding 5-4 win in Philadelphia on Thursday. The Leafs, though, have lost three straight to start the season. It's still early, but they need a win to quiet the huddled masses in Toronto.

Team Scope:

Penguins: Embarrassed might be a harsh word and probably doesn't do justice to the Coyotes, but the Penguins felt that way after their 3-0 loss at Mellon Arena on Wednesday and they did something about it Thursday with a back-and-forth victory over the Flyers. Sidney Crosby, who won only five of his 17 faceoffs against Phoenix, went 21-3 against the Flyers. Jordan Staal was moved to the left wing on a line with Evgeni Malkin and Ruslan Fedotenko and they created scoring chances all night long.

Maple Leafs: They've stumbled out of the gate and now rookie goalie Jonas Gustavsson has a groin injury that will keep him on the shelf for at least a week. Gustavsson allowed two goals on 26 shots in a 2-1 loss to Ottawa on Tuesday. The last time we saw Vesa Toskala was a week ago in Washington, where he was torched for three goals on just eight shots before being pulled after the first period.

Who's Hot: Malkin had his first multi-point game of the season Thursday with a goal and an assist. Meanwhile, defenseman Alex Goligoski had his second multi-point game of the season in Philadelphia and has four points on a goal and three assists. … Matt Stajan has three power-play goals to pace the Leafs. Tomas Kaberle has an assist in all three games and leads the team at nearly 25 minutes of ice time per game.

Injury Report: The Penguins have no new injuries to report. Maxime Talbot, Ben Lovejoy and Mark Letestu remain on injured reserve. … Gustavsson is out with a groin injury and Joey MacDonald has been called up from the Marlies to replace him. Rookie Viktor Stalberg left Tuesday's game after having his bell rung by Anton Volchenkov and is day-to-day. Phil Kessel (shoulder) and Mike Van Ryn (knee) are on injured reserve.

Stat Pack: The Penguins are 2-0 with eight goals on the road but just 1-1 with three goals at home. Through Thursday, Matt Cooke led the NHL with 16 hits while Mark Eaton led with 15 blocked shots and Crosby led with 56 faceoff wins. His 64.4-percent success rate on draws was second among players who had taken 50 or more draws. Malkin has 28 points in just 12 career games against Toronto, including nine points in four games last season. … Jason Blake scored the winning goal in both of Toronto's wins over Pittsburgh at the ACC last season. He and Stajan each had six points in the season-series. Toskala won all three starts against the Penguins last season and is 6-1 lifetime against them.

Puck Drop: "Vesa's our No.1 goalie anyway and he'll play until further notice," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said Thursday in regards to Toskala. "I was probably going to split Vesa and Jonas for the next three games, but more than likely see Vesa play all three games. He's capable of doing it. He feels great and this is an opportunity for him to really take charge right now without looking over his shoulder or anything like that."

-- Dan Rosen,


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