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Penguins, down three goals, rally past Maple Leafs

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH - Winning ugly is still winning, and the Pittsburgh Penguins won't throw this one back.

The Penguins spotted the Toronto Maple Leafs a three-goal lead less than a minute into the second period but rallied for a 6-5 shootout victory Wednesday night.

Sidney Crosby put the Penguins ahead in the second round of the tiebreaker when he carried the puck slowly toward Toronto's net and goaltender Jonathan Bernier missed on a poke check, allowing Crosby to slide the puck past him. Evgeni Malkin ended the game by wristing a shot over Bernier's pad.

"That's not the way we draw it up, but we found a way to stick with it," Crosby said. "I think it's so ugly, it was just so bad, there's no easy way to describe it. Fortunately, we stuck with it, drew some power plays and took advantage of them."

Rookie Jeff Zatkoff, who replaced Marc-Andre Fleury 13 seconds into the second period, stopped Tyler Bozak and David Clarkson in the shootout.

Pittsburgh trailed 5-3 after two periods, but the Penguins pulled even with two goals in the first 7:41 of the third.

With Jerred Smithson and James van Riemsdyk in the penalty box, Malkin controlled the puck and slid a pass to a wide-open James Neal open in the right circle. Neal snapped a shot past Bernier at 3:46 to make it a one-goal game.

Malkin tied it 3:55 later with his second of the game. He and Crosby converged on the puck in Toronto's crease and Malkin jabbed Bernier's right pad back to give him enough room to poke the puck over the goal line.

"After the second, we went to the locker room and said 'Just play right,'" Malkin said. "We saw we needed to spend time in the offensive zone and we saw they did not have a shot [in the third]."

The Penguins outshot the Maple Leafs 48-24, including 17-0 in the third period and 2-0 in overtime.

"We will take the point and move forward," Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said. "It was a back-and-forth game. We took a lot of the momentum in the second and they obviously took it to us in the third. We did a lot of good things, but we did some things that we would like back and that's in a back-and-forth game against a team that has that much skill.

"With a team like that, you can't receive the whole night."

Van Riemsdyk's second goal of the game sent Fleury to the bench and gave Toronto a 3-1 lead. Fleury retrieved the puck behind his net and attempted to send it to Jayson Megna, but van Riemsdyk picked off the pass and scored into an open net 13 seconds into the middle period.

Fleury, who allowed three goals on 11 shots, entered the game with a 3.15 goals-against average in 26 games against Toronto, his third-worst against any team he has faced in at least 20 games behind the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens. He was replaced by Zatkoff, who surrendered a goal 29 seconds later. Bozak knocked Kris Letang off the puck in Pittsburgh's zone and fed Phil Kessel, who fired a one-timer past a diving Zatkoff to make it 4-1.

"I think we played in two parts," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "I don't think we had a very good start to the game, but then we got out game going and then we played more of what we are capable of doing and then we got ourselves into penalty problems early in the third period and gave them all the momentum."

Malkin and Letang scored to cut the deficit to one with 4:40 remaining in the period, but the 18,660 in attendance for the Penguins' 300th consecutive sellout voiced their displeasure after the Maple Leafs regained their two-goal lead with 4.3 seconds left. Brooks Orpik turned the puck over in the neutral zone and van Riemsdyk's shot dribbled off Zatkoff's left pad to Bozak, who tapped it in to put Toronto up 5-3 entering the third period.

"With a team like that, if you give them an inch, they're going to take it all," van Riemsdyk said. "We have to regroup. We have two big games coming up and we'll go from there."

The Penguins recorded the game's first eight shots and took a 1-0 lead 1:57 into the game when Chris Conner buried a cross-crease feed from Andrew Ebbett for his first goal in his return to the Penguins.

Pittsburgh finished the period with a 17-10 shot advantage, but the Maple Leafs controlled much of the action after the first five minutes.

Simon Despres was called for interference at 5:01 and van Riemsdyk tipped Phaneuf's slap shot past Fleury eight seconds into the power play to tie the game. Nazem Kadri scored off a 3-on-1 break at 11:41 to put Toronto ahead.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma was happy with the outcome, if not the way his team got there.

"Some of the adjectives [used to describe the game], I'm not going to use right now," Bylsma said. "I think we started that game playing well, getting in the offensive zone and you look up and seven shots and they don't have one yet. But I think you can look at four specific mistakes that we made, whether it's with the puck or mental mistakes, that gave them goals.

"We felt like we could come out and we were going to get opportunities to win the game."

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