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Penguins-Leafs In-Game Blog

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

4:18: Grabovski blasts a one-timer past Fleury while stationed just outside the blue paint to win the game for the Leafs by a score of 3-2.

5:00: And they're off! As league rules designate, the teams are skating four-on-four.


0:00: We're going to overtime!!!

0:29: The Pens are whistled for icing and Bylsma decides to use his timeout. Letestu will take the defensive zone faceoff for Pittsburgh. And he wins it cleanly!

1:18: Pens back to full strength!

1:32: Fleury kicks away a heavy blast from Phaneuf!

2:26: Great work by Adams to pressure the point and get them to cough up the puck.

3:18: Ben Lovejoy makes a diving play to try and pokecheck the puck from MacArthur, but he trips up the Leafs forward and is going to the box. Pens on the PK.

4:43: After Engelland pokechecks the puck away from a Leaf, Neal goes down and fires a heavy shot that sails just over the net. Kovalev then picks up the loose rubber, dances around the net and sends the puck to the front of the net, but Reimer is there to cover.


7:01: Great play by Martin to keep up with a speeding Kessel and knock him off the puck! Paulie Martin has not missed a beat in his first game back after missing four straight.

8:51: Bozak powers down the ice and shovels a backhand at Fleury, who gives him nothing.

11:20: Letang makes a pretty stretch pass to Tyler Kennedy. Reimer gets a piece of TK's shot and deflects it into the corner.


14:53: How quickly the momentum can change. Letang's clearing attempt takes a funny bounce off the boards, allowing the Leafs to keep the puck in their zone. Kessel deflects a shot from the point past Flower to tie the game. Penguins 2, Maple Leafs 2

15:46: The Pens with some relentless play that's keeping the Leafs hemmed in their own zone. Fantastic cycling and puck management by Pittsburgh.

18:19: Kessel displays some nice hand-eye coordination when he whacks a puck out of midair at Fleury, who reaches up and gloves it. Baseball anyone?

20:00: The puck has dropped to start the third.


- Staal is 11-of-14 on faceoffs for a 79-percent success rate
- Letang leads with 16:54 of ice time
- Niskanen and Lovejoy are both plus-2

0:00: The first 40 minutes are in the books. The Pens lead 2-1 and hold a 17-10Le advantage in shots.

0:19: After some solid play in the Toronto zone, MacArthur powers his way to the Pens net and gets both a shot and the subsequent faceoff. But Flower stands tall.

1:03: The Leafs ice the puck.

2:36: Martin steals the puck from Phaneuf, who had been pinching in the Pens zone! Nice defensive play by No. 7.

3:35: Letang lays a big hit on a Maple Leaf on the half wall in the Pens zone, separating him from the puck and allowing Pittsburgh to clear.

6:16: Grabovski dekes around the Pens D and heads in alone on Flower, but can't capitalize!


6:44: Grabovski speeds down the ice and whips a shot at "Flower" that deflects up and out of play.

8:36: As soon as I typed that last entry about Reimer not giving up rebounds, a juicy one bounces right to the stick of Kennedy, whose backhand just misses the net.

9:04: Engelland unleashes a cannon from the point that Reimer absorbs. The Leafs goalie hasn't surrendered many rebounds here tonight.

11:07: Fleury decides to cover up a Toronto dump-in attempt as a Maple Leaf was bearing down hard on him. Faceoff coming.

13:20: Niskanen with a BEAUTIFUL stretch pass from behind the Pens blue line to Chris Conner, who receives the puck at the Leafs blue line, beats Phaneuf and backhands a shot through Reimer's fivehole! Penguins 2, Maple Leafs 1


16:06: We're back to five-on-five hockey as Lupul exits the sin bin. What a penalty-marred start to the second period.

16:36: Letestu gets a point-blank scoring opportunity in the slot with Staal providing a screen, but somehow Reimer gets a pad on it!

17:11: Now Pittsburgh is on the PP for 1:03!

18:09: Now Lupul is in the box for tripping up Martin. We're back to four-on-four hockey.


18:39: Neal is out of the box. The Pens will now have to kill off a five-on-four Toronto PP for the next 1:30.

19:12: Now the Pens will have to kill off a five-on-three Toronto power play, as they just got a bench penalty for too many men on the ice.

19:27: The Leafs are on the PP for 45 seconds.

20:00: Here we go!


- Martin has already logged 9:28 of ice time
- Staal went 7-of-10 on faceoffs for a 70-percent success rate
- That was Niskanen's first goal in 57 games

0:00: That'll do it for the first. The Pens and Leafs are tied 1-1 and Pittsburgh has an 8-6 advantage in shots.

0:42: We're going to play four-on-four hockey for 1:15 after Neal gets whistled for slashing Komisarek.

1:27: Keith Aulie is going to the box after cross-checking Jeffrey from behind. Pens on the PP!

2:58: Wow. Tanger just made a fantastic play. He used his stick to pokecheck the puck just off the blade of Joffrey Lupul as the Leafs forward bore down on him one-on-one. Letang then drove Lupul to the boards and laid a hit on him. Tanger then used his skate to separate Lupul from the puck and subsequently cleared it out. Beautiful.


5:12: Fun fact: Kulemin is from Magnitogorsk, Russia – the same city as Evgeni Malkin – and played alongside the Pens forward for one season in 2005-06 with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Russian Super League. Kulemin actually went on to capture league MVP honors the following season.

5:56: Kulemin releases a shot from the circle and beats Fleury glove side to get the Leafs on the board. Penguins 1, Maple Leafs 1

7:03: Neal nearly gets his first as a Penguin on a wraparound attempt!

8:55: Pens back to full strength.


10:41: Talbot breaks behind the Leafs defense and Martin sauces a pass to him, but it's a little too wild for Max to get a handle on. That would have been a breakaway if the puck hadn't been bouncing.

10:55: Engelland is getting a pair for hi-sticking. Pens back on the PK.

11:17: Talbot is wearing an "A" for the Penguins tonight, by the way.

13:08: Niskanen gets his first goal as a Penguin on a bing-bang-boom play! Talbot won the faceoff to Dupuis, who dropped the puck back to Lovejoy (while falling down nonetheless), who touched the puck right over to Niskanen, who one-timed it past Reimer for the score! Penguins 1, Maple Leafs 0

13:12: Phaneuf is out of the box.

13:44: Pittsburgh's first PP unit had Martin and Letang on the points, Neal and Kovalev on the half walls and Staal in front of the net.


15:17: As Matt Cooke goes to the net, Phaneuf knocks him over from behind. The Leafs captain is going to the box for interference. Pens on the PP!

16:15: The Pens keep play corralled in the Leafs zone until Reimer is finally able to smother the puck for the faceoff.

17:47: Pens back to full strength.

18:04: Now Talbot robs Kessel of the puck and clears it down the ice. Tenacious play by No. 25.

18:40: Adams breaks up a pass from Dion Phaneuf to Phil Kessel and he and Max Talbot break out of the zone, getting a shot on net.

19:48: Nikolai Kulemin wheels to the net right off the draw and Kris Letang has to pull him down to prevent a breakaway. He's going to head to the box for holding. Pens on the PK.

20:00: And they're off!


7:00 PM: Kunitz and Godard are scratched. Here are the Pens' lines:



Marc-Andre Fleury gets the nod between the pipes.

6:46 PM: Also, can't forget the great news from this morning's skate: Paul Martin and Tyler Kennedy have both been confirmed to play tonight!

6:45 PM: The Penguins are getting ready for their rematch with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team they just played on Saturday in this same arena. Talk about déjà vu. While I usually leave song selections up to Sam Kasan, this time around I did try finding an appropriate song to describe this eerie sense of familiarity and sameness, but had no luck.

So I'll start the blog off with some quotes from new Penguin James Neal, who actually hails from Whitby, Ontario. He's ecstatic to be playing the Maple Leafs in Toronto – which is just 30 minutes from his hometown – for the second time in a five-day span. With his former team Dallas being in the Western Conference, he rarely got to play at the Air Canada Centre.

"It was a good coincidence that we ended up playing two games in Toronto," he said earlier this week. "I live 30 minutes from Toronto, so I was kind of going home. It’s always fun playing in Toronto. ... Family and friends get to come to the game (Wednesday). We flew in there right before the game (Saturday), straight from Carolina, so I didn’t get to go home. But we’re going again on Tuesday. So I’ll get to go home and have a family dinner."

Unfortunately, not all of Neal's siblings will be around. Neal is the oldest of five – four boys and one girl – and two of his brothers are away playing hockey, one in the American Hockey League and one in the Ontario Hockey League.
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