The Penguins dropped a 5-2 decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs in their home opener at CONSOL Energy Center. Sidney Crosby finished with a goal and an assist while Evgeni Malkin opened the scoring for Pittsburgh.
The Penguins found themselves constantly killing penalties as the Maple Leafs ended the game with eight power plays. Pittsburgh’s penalty kill was solid, killing off seven of those attempts (with Toronto scoring a 5-on-3 goal with 1:01 left in the third). During 5-on-5 play, the Penguins struggled with puck management and didn’t execute the way they needed to in order to be successful.
“We didn’t get to our game consistently, that’s for sure,” Crosby said. “We didn’t get enough shifts in their end. We didn’t execute and make passes through the neutral zone as good as we could have. Definitely not our best game, that’s for sure. I think we had our chances, though. I think that the chances were there. (But) you take that many penalties in the second and (with) momentum in the third, we didn’t find a way to get enough pucks to the net and get ourselves back in it.”
- The Penguins’ PK had to do some serious work in the second period, as Pittsburgh was shorthanded for 5:03 straight minutes, both 5-on-4 and 5-on-3. The Penguins were down two men for 50 seconds at one point, with Brandon Sutter, Craig Adams and Brooks Orpik putting forth a tremendous effort keeping Toronto to the perimeter. The highlight save of those few minutes came when Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury flashed his glove on Phil Kessel, who had an open look from just outside the blue paint.
Penalty kills can give teams momentum, and this sequence got the crowd roaring. But as Orpik pointed out, being shorthanded for that long is tiring and keeps Pittsburgh’s star players on the bench.
“Even if you kill them it takes so much energy and it takes (Crosby, Malkin and James Neal) off the ice,” Orpik said. “Having those three guys on the bench isn't a good recipe for winning hockey games. We know in here we have to be a little more disciplined if we want to win hockey games.”
- Crosby scored his first goal of the season in gorgeous fashion. He got in the way of a Toronto shot from the point and headed straight out of the zone, with Pascal Dupuis finding him in mid-stride. Crosby had a step on Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf and was able to rip a snap shot that went through goalie James Reimer for the score.
Crosby on his goal: “’Duper’ made a great pass. I was able to get behind the D and put a shot in. He did a great job of just finding me behind the D.”
- The Penguins went 1-for-5 with the man-advantage, with their goal coming in the first period. It was a pretty little sequence between Malkin, Crosby and Kris Letang. Malkin slid a pass to Crosby behind the net, who drew it out to the wall and passed back to Letang. Letang gave it right back and Crosby returned it to Malkin, who whipped it into the net for his first goal of the season before Reimer could slide over and get set.
- Deryk Engelland dropped the gloves with Toronto’s Colton Orr early in the first period. The two veteran fighters exchanged fast, back-and-forth blows for an extended period of time, with each player getting solid punches in. When the two men left their respective penalty boxes at the end of their five-minute majors, both teams stood and tapped their sticks on the boards.
Author: Michelle Crechiolo