LEAFS 4, PENS 3
Despite an incredible push from the Pens, they can't get the tying goal to force OT. Leafs win 4-3.0:56:
Leafs ice it and give the Pens an offensive zone faceoff!1:04:
Johnny has gone to the bench for the extra attacker! Pens have an empty net and a faceoff coming up just outside the Leafs' zone!1:23:
Great defensive play by Geno as he makes a sliding block!4:50:
Neal gets a mini breakaway and goes in on Gustavsson, who stacks the pads and stops his shot! Neal can't stop his momentum and barrels into the Leafs goalie, whose helmet flies off. Tempers flare a bit after the play and we're going to 4-on-4 hockey with Sully and Phaneuf getting coincidentals. 9:49:
Connolly sends a perfect cross-ice pass to Kessel and the puck barely touches his stick before he boomerangs it past Johnny for the score. A scorching shot by Kessel to give him his 10th goal, pulling him ahead of Neal for the league lead. Leafs 4, Pens 310:54:
Leafs finally back to full strength.12:00:
Pens still have about a minute left on the second penalty too! Perfect timing. 12:01:
With 7 seconds left on the 5-on-3, Tanger fakes the shot then goes over to Malkin, who absolutely rips a one-timer that I'm surprised didn't go right through the netting, it was so hard! Great screen by Kunitz on the play! Pens 3, Leafs 312:54:
Tanger draws a hooking call on Phillippe Dupuis halfway through the PP and the Pens will get a 5-on-3 advantage for a full minute! Bylsma uses his timeout to get the troops settled for this huge opportunity!13:54:
Faceoff wizard David Steckel is in the box for delay of game. Pens to the PP! Malkin, Neal, Kunitz up top, Sullivan and Letang on the points. 16:52:
I spoke too soon. MacArthur grabs a loose puck on the doorstep and roofs it up into the net. Leafs 3, Pens 217:55:
Leafs pressuring hard to start the third, but Johnny's been solid and the D have been clearing the second-chance opportunities.20:00:
Puck drops. Game on! Let's do this!
- Kunitz now has 4 goals and 5 points through his last 6 games
- He's just three points from 300
- Letang now has 9 assists through 11 games
First 40 minutes are in the books. Pens and Leafs are tied 2-2, with Pitt's goals coming from Kunitz and Cooke. Pens outshooting Toronto 20-18.4:54:
And they do it! Geno gets the puck at the circle and Grabovski dives for the shot block way too early on a guy like Malkin. Once Grabovski bites, Malkin shoots and the rebound bounces right to Kunitz -- who slams it home! PP tally for Pitt! Pens 2, Leafs 2 5:43:
These Leafs are fast.
They're getting so many odd-man rushes and are pressuring the Pens hard, even on the PK. A dangerous, explosive squad.6:42:
Now the Pens will head to the PP and get a great chance to tie it up as Matthew Lombardi gets a pair for hooking Neal. 8:30:
And the Leafs get their second PP tally of the night. Lupul, planted just outside of the blue paint, receives a pass from Kessel and gives it right to a crashing Tim Connolly, who doesn't miss on the wide open net. Leafs 2, Pens 18:43:
Pens head to their second PK of the night as Malkin is called for hooking. 9:40:
Lovejoy sends a shot to the net that Gustavsson saves, but unfortunately for him the rebound pops right to Matt Cooke
– who's planted right in front of the cage. He turns and tucks it into the net. Pens 1, Leafs 114:20:
Now the action is picking up! The Pens get a great chance when Neal carries down and feeds Martin, whose shot is turned aside with an ensuing juicy rebound that Kunitz can't quite get. The Leafs respond instantly with a decent opportunity, but Neal powers back with a great backcheck to help thwart the play. 15:27:
Honestly not much to report these last few minutes. Lots of back-and-forth play and a good pace to start the middle frame. Nice flow.20:00:
Puck drops. Game on!!
- That was the first road power-play goal the Pens have allowed this season
- They're now 22-of-23 on the road and 36-of-38 overall on the PK
- Letang led all skaters with 8:09 minutes
- Thanks to Staggy (Paul Steigerwald) for giving our Cardboard Orpik story
a shout out on ROOT SPORTS just now!!!
That'll do it for the first. Toronto leads 1-0 on a gorgeous re-direct from Grabovski. Pens outshot Leafs 12-7.1:00:
Leafs have a 2-on-0 chance right in front of Johnny, but Paul Martin
comes sliding in out of nowhere and directs the pass out of danger!!!2:20:
By the way, that Leafs goal was the first road power-play tally the Pens have allowed this season. 3:13:
Leafs establishing lots of offensive zone time this period. They've definitely got plenty of energy.6:16:
A speeding MacArthur receives a go-ahead pass and wheels down the ice for a breakaway chance, but Johnny comes up with a pad save and gloves the ensuing bouncing puck! 7:55:
Gorgeous chance for Sully just now! He finds some space in front of the net and waits...waits...waits...but Gustavsson doesn't bite and snatches the puck with his glove. Sully is so close. I'm feeling he's going to get one tonight.8:29:
Clarke MacArthur (what an awesome name) carries the puck to the dot before dropping a pass to Dion Phaneuf. He rips a shot that Mikhail Grabovski re-directs past Johnny from the slot. Nothing Johnny could do about that. Impossible stop for him. Leafs 1, Pens 08:44:
Now it's the Pens heading to the PK as Malkin is whistled for holding. There's already been a few times where the Leafs have found themselves splitting the D and getting odd-man rushes so far this game. Hopefully the Pens can work on that through this kill and after.10:47:
Leafs back to full strength. 12:21:
Geno with a perfect drop pass to Neal, who's got a ton of space in the slot! But his shot rips high and wide! P.S. - just seconds earlier Sully laid an absolutely gorgeous hip check on Tyler Bozak. Don't see those too often. Love it!13:05:
Phillippe Dupuis (no relation to Pascal) lays a high hit to Kris Letang
's back and is going to be penalized for it. Pens to the PP! Neal, Kunitz and Malkin start up top and Letang and Sullivan on the points. 16:44:
Great play by Joe Vitale
to hound David Steckel on the boards in the defensive zone and come away with the puck. Good defense creates offense.20:00:
It's a Hockey Night in Canada!!! (No, really, it is...the Pens-Leafs game is also being broadcast on CBC in addition to ROOT SPORTS). Puck drops. Game on!
MacIntyre, Michalek and of course Staal are scratched. Here are the Pens' official lines:
Johnny between the pipes.
Something to keep in mind: the NHL's top-two goal scorers in James Neal
and Phil Kessel will go head-to-head tonight. Each player has nine goals so far on the season and it'll be exciting to see who gets to 10 first. Something I just noticed: their numbers are flip-flopped. Interesting...
Good evening everyone! The Pens are currently preparing to take on the confident young Maple Leafs in just over half an hour, and the big news coming out of the Air Canada Centre today is that Pittsburgh will be without center Jordan Staal
– who did not make the trip with the team.
Head coach Dan Bylsma listed Staal as day-to-day with a lower-body injury sustained on Thursday vs. NY Islanders in a collision with center John Tavares. He added that Mark Letestu will take Staal's spot in the lineup and that Brent Johnson
will get the start in goal. For more on Staal and the rest of the day's happenings, check out Sam Kasan's Pens Report
The injuries just seem to keep coming for the Pens, but they keep finding ways to perservere. They're currently riding a five-game winning streak – the league's longest currently active stretch – and have the NHL's second-best record record at 4-1-1. It'll be a tough challenge to extend it to six against this Leafs squad, as they're playing some fantastic hockey right now. Get versed: