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Penguins face Maple Leafs, shoot for seven straight

by Mike G. Morreale

PENGUINS (19-8-0) at MAPLE LEAFS (15-11-1)


Last 10: Pittsburgh 8-2-0; Toronto 5-4-1

Season series: This is the third and final meeting of the regular season between the Penguins and Maple Leafs. The teams squared off just five days ago at Air Canada Centre. The teams have split the opening two games, with the Penguins scoring the most recent 5-4 shootout decision on March 9.

Big story: Even in the absence of the National Hockey League's reigning MVP, Evgeni Malkin, Atlantic Division-leading Pittsburgh was able to extend its winning streak to six and improved to 4-2 without Malkin this season with a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on Tuesday. At 19-8-0 overall, the Penguins were even with the Montreal Canadiens for the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed with 38 points heading into Wednesday's action. The Leafs, 6-5-1 at Air Canada Centre, are sixth in the East with 31 points.

Team Scope:

Penguins: Even though NHL leading scorer Sidney Crosby saw his eight-game point streak snapped, the Penguins rallied from a two-goal deficit late in the third period to score a 3-2 victory over the Bruins at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday. Chris Kunitz started the comeback when he scored at 13:42 before Brandon Sutter beat Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin twice in less than four minutes, including the game-winner with 2:03 remaining. Five of the Penguins' six wins in their current streak have been by one goal.

Maple Leafs: After beginning the season 7-2-0 on the road -- the organization's best effort to start a season since 1940-41 -- the Maple Leafs have struggled with just two road wins in the past six games. The Leafs dropped a 5-2 decision to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday at MTS Centre, despite a pair of goals from Phil Kessel. James Reimer yielded four goals on 28 shots before being yanked 11:16 into the third period. Ben Scrivens stopped five of six shots in relief.

Who's hot: James Neal has a point in six straight games, connecting for four goals and nine points over that span. … Maple Leafs right wing Kessel has five goals and nine points in his past five games.

Injury report: Malkin, who has missed the past two games with an upper-body injury, remains out. … The Leafs are without forward Joffrey Lupul (forearm).

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