| Photos: Pens 5, Leafs 4 (SO)
|Pittsburgh didn’t play its most inspired game against the red-hot and dangerous Toronto Maple Leafs. The Penguins did, however, play well enough to pull out a 5-4 shootout victory and earn two HUGE points in the Atlantic Division standings. |
The Penguins fell behind, 2-1, early in the second period. Head coach Dan Bylsma called a timeout and tried to rally his troops. Pittsburgh responded with back-to-back goals from captain Sidney Crosby to take a 3-2 lead. The pesky Leafs rebounded with two goals to reclaim the lead.
The Penguins were running out of time as the clock wound down to the final three minutes of regulation. But forward Matt Cooke delivered in the clutch for Pittsburgh, re-directing a low shot from the point into the upper corner of the net.
In the shootout, Crosby and Pascal Dupuis buried their chances, while Marc-Andre Fleury stonewalled two Leafs shooters to lift Pittsburgh to victory.
With the two points earned by Penguins with the victory, the team now holds a two-point advantage over New Jersey, although the Devils have played two less games.
|WHAT HAPPENED |
|PITTSBURGH (AP) - Sidney Crosby ended a seven-game stretch without a goal by scoring twice, then joined Pascal Dupuis with shootout tallies as the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 on Sunday. |
|SHOT OF THE NIGHT |
Pascal Dupuis scores the game-clinching shootout goal for Pittsburgh
(photo by Getty)
|What Went Well: Shots from the Point |
The Penguins defensemen were very active with getting shots on goal and creating offense. Pittsburgh’s blueliners combined for 14 shots and four assists. Sidney Crosby scored his first goal of the game on a rebound of a Brooks Orpik shot. Pittsburgh tied the game with 2:48 left in regulation when Matt Cooke re-directed Jordan Leopold’s shot into the net.
What Could Have Gone Better: Killer Instinct
Pittsburgh wasn’t playing its best game during the first 24 minutes of the contest. After head coach Dan Bylsma called a timeout, the team picked it up and scored two goals to take a 3-2 lead. However, the team allowed Toronto to sneak back into the game. Luckily, the Penguins made enough plays to pull out the win.
|Defenseman Brooks Orpik isn’t known much for his offensive prowess but that shouldn’t take away from his incalculable value to the team. With Sergei Gonchar still out of the lineup with an illness, Orpik stepped up at both end of the ice for Pittsburgh. |
The 6-foot-2, 219-pound blueliner set a new single-season career high with three assists against Toronto, including two primary assists on Sidney Crosby’s two goals. Orpik also posted a plus-1 rating, three hits and logged 21:49 minutes of ice time.
|SCORING SYNOPSIS |
|The Maple Leafs grabbed the early lead with a tally 3:23 into the opening period. Rickard Wallin collided with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury as the Penguins cleared the puck out of the zone. Wallin trailed the play. When Toronto gained possession of the puck, Wallin was behind the Pittsburgh defense. Luke Schenn found Wallin for a breakaway. Fleury stretched out his pad to stop Wallin’s shot. But Colton Orr rambled in to slam home the rebound. Toronto 1, Pittsburgh 0. |
The Penguins tied the game halfway through the first period. Mike Rupp won a puck battle behind the net and pushed the rubber towards the front of the crease. Tyler Kennedy bulled to the net and beat three Leafs defenders to bang the puck across the goal line. Pittsburgh 1, Toronto 1.
The Leafs retook the lead five minutes into the second period. Phil Kessel received a pass above the near circle and wristed a shot under the arm of Fleury. Toronto 2, Pittsburgh 1.
Pittsburgh tied the game with a goal from Sidney Crosby at 7:29 of the second period. Brooks Orpik sent a slap shot on net from the near point. Crosby found the loose puck and, while standing between two Toronto defenders, whacked the puck into the goal. Pittsburgh 2, Toronto 2.
The Penguins earned their first lead of the contest midway through the second frame. Crosby won a faceoff in the far dot of the Maple Leafs zone, and sneaked into the slot. Orpik got the puck to Crosby, who one-timed a shot through Jean-Sebastian Giguere. Pittsburgh 3, Toronto 2.
The Pittsburgh lead was short lived as Toronto notched the score with five minutes remaining in the second period. During a delayed penalty call, Carl Gunnarsson found the puck atop the far circle and blasted a hard slap shot into the netting. Pittsburgh 3, Toronto 3.
The Leafs ended the Penguins streak of 34 straight penalty kills five minutes into the third frame. Tyler Bozak sent a shot on net from the midpoint that squeezed through Fleury’s pads and trickled over the goal line. Toronto 4, Pittsburgh 3.
Pittsburgh tied the game with 2:48 left in regulation. Jordan Leopold laid into a slap shot from the near point. Matt Cooke, who was positioned to the side of the net, re-directed Leopold’s shot into the upper corner of the net. Pittsburgh 4, Toronto 4.
The Penguins pulled out the victory thanks to some great shootout shootin'. Crosby dangled the puck before snapping it hard off the pipe and into the goal. Pascal Dupuis juked to Giguere's blocker side and wristed the rubber into the net. Fleury stopped both Toronto shooters (Nikolai Kulemin and Phil Kessel). Pittsburgh 5, Toronto 4.
|INTRIGUING NOTABLES |
|The Penguins played without the services of Evgeni Malkin, who missed six of the team’s last seven games with a foot injury, and Sergei Gonchar, who’s been sidelined the last three contests with an illness. |
“I expect Gonch to be getting healthy very soon,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “I can’t predict the future on that one. I expect him to be getting back. With Geno, we are more apt to make sure he is 100 percent than to put his foot into a skate and go out when it is not 100 percent. I hope he is getting better. I know he is getting better. We will see him back on the ice here in the next couple days. He is possible for Wednesday. We are also not going to put him back in the lineup if he is going to be in one (game) and out one."
|GAME NOTES |
|> Scoring Summary: |
TOR, C.Orr (3), 3:23 1st period: Leafs 1, Penguins 0
PIT, T.Kennedy (11), 9:49 1st period: Penguins 1, Leafs 1
TOR, P.Kessel (30), 4:45 2nd period: Leafs 2, Penguins 1
PIT, S.Crosby (46), 7:29 2nd period: Penguins 2, Leafs 2
PIT, S.Crosby (47), 10:43 2nd period: Penguins 3, Leafs 2
TOR, C.Gunnarsson (3), 14:35 2nd period: Penguins 3, Leafs 3
TOR, T.Bozak PP (8), 5:38 3rd period: Leafs 4, Penguins 3
PIT, M.Cooke (15), 17:12 3rd period: Penguins 4, Leafs 4
> Pittsburgh improves to 44-25-7 on the season for 95 points, with a 23-10-4 mark at Mellon Arena. The Penguins momentarily take a two-point lead over New Jersey in the Atlantic Division, though the Devils have two games in hand on Pittsburgh.
> The Penguins improved to 30-2-3 at home in the month of March/April since the 2006-07 season. Pittsburgh is 5-0-1 this March.
> Pittsburgh is 8-3-3 since the Olympic break.
> The Penguins have killed 42 of the last 45 shorthanded situations (93.3 percent), but had their consecutive kills streak snapped at 34.
> All-time under head coach Dan Bylsma the Penguins are 62-28-11; 33-11-5 at home; and 38-1-1 when scoring four or more goals.
> Sidney Crosby posted his league leading 46th and 47th goals of the season. He has points in 21 of his last 26 games for a total of 37 (17G-20A).
> Brooks Orpik set a new single-season career high with three assists.
> Matt Cooke tied his single-season career high with his 15th goal.
> Craig Adams notched his 100th career point with an assist.
> Kris Letang sent a career-high nine shots on goal.
> Max Talbot played in his 300th career game.
|THREE STARS ||QUOTE OF THE NIGHT |
| || |
|1. S.Crosby |
|“You want make sure you earn those points. |
We are pushing for first in our division.
We feel we have to win as many games
as we can. If that means winning the rest of
the way out, we want to be able to do that.”
- Matt Cooke