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Leafs try for 3-0 start as they visit Pittsburgh

by John Kreiser

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

TV – TSN (HD); FSN-Pittsburgh (HD)

Season series –
The Leafs make their first-ever visit to the new Consol Energy Center and face the Penguins for the first time this season. Pittsburgh won three of the four games last season, but Toronto’s last two visits to Mellon Arena produced three points – a victory and a shootout loss.

Big story – One of these teams comes into the game unbeaten – and it’s not the Penguins. The Leafs are the toast of Toronto after opening their season with home victories against Montreal and Ottawa – a huge change from last season, when they opened by going 0-7-1 in their first eight games. The Penguins dropped the first two games in their new home, but got into the victory column on Monday with a 3-1 win at New Jersey.

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs – The Leafs start their first road trip on a high – a victory in Pittsburgh would make them 3-0 for the first time since 1999-2000, the last time they won the Northeast Division title. The Leafs are getting solid goaltending from Jean-Sebastien Giguere, improved special-teams play and offense from a variety of players.

"The enthusiasm's a lot better," coach Ron Wilson said. "We've got better balance to our team."

Penguins – Pittsburgh tries for the third time to get a win in the brand-new Consol Energy Center. Most of the Penguins’ problems have come at the offensive end, where they’ve generated just six non-empty net goals. That wasn’t enough to beat Philadelphia or Montreal, but the Penguins held New Jersey to a lone third-period goal and added an empty-netter for a 3-1 win on Monday.

Who’s hot – Three Leafs, Phil Kessel, Clarke MacArthur and newcomer Tim Brent, each has two goals. Giguere has allowed just three goals in the two victories. … Backup goaltender Brent Johnson may have earned a second start after making 30 saves in the win at New Jersey. Defenseman Alex Goligoski has points in all three of Pittsburgh’s games.

Injury report – The Penguins may be without defenseman Zybnek Michalek, who left Monday’s game with an injured arm, and Brooks Orpik, who missed the game at New Jersey with a groin problem. The Penguins recalled Andrew Hutchinson as insurance. … The Leafs may get defenseman Brett Lebda (shoulder) back into the lineup. They placed defenseman Jeff Finger on waivers.

Stat pack – Toronto’s penalty-killers, last in the NHL in 2009-10, are a perfect 7-for-7 through two games. … Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, the NHL’s co-leader in goals last season, has not scored thus far this season and has just 1 assist. He had 6 goals in the Penguins’ four games against Toronto last season.

Puck drop – To say that this season is the complete opposite of last season for the Leafs would be putting it mildly – they needed 14 games to get two victories in 2009-10. One reason for the improvement is the play from the fourth line of Mike Zigomanis, Colton Orr and Mike Brown – the trio hasn’t been scored on yet this season.

“The fourth line has to be able to skate and be prepared to play in a lot of situations,” Wilson said Tuesday. “It can’t be so limited that you can’t put them on the ice. I’m pretty comfortable with the guys we have right now.”


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