PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs were playing the team with the
NHL's worst record, before a small crowd on a post-holiday Monday night. The
opportunity for a letdown was enormous.
Not a chance.
Joe Nieuwendyk scored a goal and set up another, and the Maple Leafs quickly
took care of the Pittsburgh Penguins with a 5-0 victory that ended their
four-game winless streak.
Nieuwendyk, Tie Domi and Alexei Ponikarovsky had multiple-point games to
support backup goalie Trevor Kidd's first shutout in more than two years. Kidd
turned aside 25 shots in only his fourth game this season and second victory.
Ed Belfour sat out with a leg injury sustained Sunday in practice that isn't
believed to be serious.
Kidd's last previous shutout was a 2-0 victory against Buffalo on Nov. 16,
2001, while with Florida.
"We had to make ourselves ready to play," Kidd said. "It's not like
preparing for the Flyers or Ottawa, but we really tried to prepare our game and
make sure we were ready to go."
It showed, even though the Maple Leafs also played without forward Owen
Nolan, who had laser surgery Monday to repair a torn retina in his left eye. He
is expected to be sidelined for at least two weeks.
"It's not easy to lose Owen and Ed, but Trevor stepped up and played a
great game," Nieuwendyk said. "One guy goes out and another guy comes in and
it seems to really help the team, and that's what you have to have to go a long
Toronto leads the Eastern Conference with 55 points, but had gone 0-2-2
following a seven-game unbeaten streak. The Maple Leafs are 2-0 against the
Penguins this season and have beaten them four straight times over the last two
"It's not easy playing those games you're supposed to win and should win,
but we came out and carried the play for most of the night," Nieuwendyk said.
"These points are valuable as the year wears on."
Pittsburgh, which has an NHL-low nine victories and 26 points, has been
outscored 15-2 in losing its last three home games and is 1-7-1-1 in its last
"I think up to this point, we've had a good effort," defenseman Brooks
Orpik said. "I think this was the first time all year guys got away from our
(defensive) system, and you've got to stick to it. We've got a lot of young
guys, but how long can you use that excuse?"
The talent-thin Penguins have occasionally been tough on some of the NHL's
top-record teams in Pittsburgh, but the Maple Leafs prevented that by opening a
3-0 lead early in the second period.
On all three goals, the Maple Leafs used their speed to create easy scoring
changes against the league's worst defensive team. Pittsburgh has allowed 144
goals, 10 more than any other team.
Nieuwendyk cut through defensemen Dick Tarnstrom and Drake Berehowsky with
little opposition to beat goalie Sebastien Caron three minutes into the game
for his 10th of the season.
Domi also was virtually undefended when he made it 2-0 slightly less than
nine minutes later, skating down the slot to take Matt Stajan's pass and easily
beat Caron for his fourth goal.
"We were on our heels again," Penguins coach Eddie Olczyk said. "We got
away for quite a long time from that pattern of having bad starts ... early in
the year, teams were scoring on us early. Sometimes when you're pressing and
frustrated you try to do too much."
Aki Berg scored his second of the season, both against Pittsburgh, off Mats
Sundin's pass from behind the net early in the second period. Tomas Kaberle
scored later in the period off Nieuwendyk's across-the-slot pass for his second
goal and first since Oct. 30.
Nathan Perrott got his first goal of the season and second of his career in
the third period, stealing Caron's attempted clearing pass and putting in his