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Penguins shut out Maple Leafs in Kessel's return

by Mike Brophy

TORONTO -- Phil Kessel did not score in his return to Toronto, but Marc-Andre Fleury made 21 saves for his second shutout of the season in the Pittsburgh Penguins' 4-0 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Saturday.

Eric Fehr, playing his first game of the season and first with the Penguins (7-4-0), led them with a goal and an assist and Pittsburgh opened a four-game road trip with its fourth consecutive victory.

Toronto fell to 1-7-2 and 0-3-1 at home.

The game marked the return to Toronto for Kessel, who was traded to the Penguins on July 1. Kessel led the Maple Leafs in scoring the past six seasons with 181 goals and 395 points in 446 games. He had one shot on goal in 18:54.

"It was a little strange, but it's another hockey game," Kessel said. "It was a good win for us."

Kessel said he is settling in with his new team, but he still has fond memories of his time with the Maple Leafs.

"I loved playing here. I loved my time in Toronto," Kessel said. "I will always consider this home. I played here six years and I love the city and the fans have been very good to me. I'll miss it, but I have to move on."

Fehr, who played 454 games with the Washington Capitals before signing with the Penguins, said his team is finally starting to play to its capabilities after losing the first three games of the season.

"If you go through preseason, everybody was saying how many goals we were going to score and how good we were going to be," Fehr said. "I think maybe we listened to them a little bit and thought the games were going to be easy. With the teams in this league, you're not going to walk over anybody so I think we learned our lesson. We have played a lot harder and a lot tougher and we have gotten the results because of it."

After missing the first 10 games following elbow surgery, Fehr admitted he was nervous prior to the game, but was pleased with his performance.

"I felt a little bit better than I thought I would feel out there," Fehr said. "I couldn't believe how much time I had with the puck and I was able to outwait their goalie. I wasn't sure if the puck was going to sit down for me, but I wanted to make sure I got as much on it as I could."

The Penguins opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 13:33 of the first period. With Toronto center Byron Froese off for tripping, Pittsburgh left wing David Perron drove to the net with the puck and took a shot that went between the legs of Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier. The puck stopped on the goal line and was poked in by Chris Kunitz, who scored his second goal of the season.

Pittsburgh was unable to add to its lead when Toronto forward Rich Clune was penalized five minutes for boarding at 16:02 of the opening period, but did make it 2-0 with a shorthanded goal at 2:34 of the second. With Pascal Dupuis off for slashing, Fehr collected a rebound and put it past Bernier for his first goal of the season.

Pittsburgh center Matt Cullen extended the lead to 3-0 at 10:29 when he broke in 2-on-1 with Sergei Plotnikov. Cullen skated in on the right wing and put a shot past Bernier for his first of the season.

The Penguins scored again at 4:31 of the third period when Brian Dumoulin's dump-in off the end boards was collected in front of the net by Patric Hornqvist, who beat Bernier for his second goal of the season.

Toronto coach Mike Babcock was not pleased with the way the Maple Leafs responded after falling behind.

"Life is about responding to adversity and about doing things right," Babcock said. "I believe we are a way better hockey club than that.

"You don't have to blame any players. Look right here. The buck stops here. I'm responsible."

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