GAME DAY REPORT: Game 3 – Maple Leafs @ Pens

The Pittsburgh Penguins have not wasted any time moving into first place of the Atlantic division with road wins over the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers over the weekend. The past is the past, though as the Toronto Maple Leafs are in town to face the Penguins tonight at 7:00 at the CONSOL Energy Center. The home opener tonight will be the first NHL hockey game in the arena since April 20, 2012. Toronto (1-1) lost to the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night by the scored of 2-1 and defeated the Montreal Canadiens by the same score on Saturday night.

The fans of the Penguins are ready to roar and the team seems to feel the same way.

“Every game is big, but we want to make sure we get off to a good start at home. That’s important.”

-Sidney Crosby

With a win today, the Penguins would hold a six-point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers in the Atlantic division as the Flyers (0-3) lost last night to the New Jersey Devils.

WILL THE PENGUINS FEED OFF CROWD?
Since this is the first NHL game at the CONSOL Energy Center since April, the fans will likely provide a loud and electric atmosphere to welcome back their Penguins. The Penguins have compiled a 3-2 record in their last five home openers. With a good start to the season and loud fans, will the Penguins come out of the gate flying? Toronto is a team that knows how to play in loud environments.

In four meetings last season, both teams recorded two wins, with one coming in a shootout for the Penguins. The home team won each matchup as the teams both scored a total of 11 goals in the four games.

Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis led the team in points against Toronto last season with 4 (2 goals and 2 assists). Marc-Andre Fleury, who is expected to start in goal tonight, only started in one of the four matchups last season.

NOTEWORTHY STATS
Sidney Crosby
will play against Toronto for the first time tonight since December 8, 2010. He has recorded 35 points in 22 games played against Toronto in his career (17 goals & 18 assists).

Evgeni Malkin also has produced at a high level against the Maple Leafs. The star center has compiled 9 goals and 29 assists in 20 games against Toronto.

Mikhail Grabovski of Toronto fared well against Pittsburgh in his career with 5 goals and 9 assists in 15 games played against the Penguins. 3 of those goals and 4 of those assists came last season.

Toronto started goaltender Ben Scrivens for their first two games, who has never faced Pittsburgh in his young career. However, goaltender James Reimer has compiled a 2-0-1 record with a 2.26 goals-against average against the Penguins in his career. Reimer will likely start tonight for Toronto.

LINES:

Probable Maple Leafs lines

MacArthur-Bozak-Kessel
van Riemsdyk-Grabovski-Kulemin
Lupul-Kadri-Komarov
Orr-McClement-Brown

Phaneuf-Kostka
Liles-Gardiner
Gunnarsson-Franson

Probable Penguins lines
Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis
Tangradi-Malkin-Neal
Cooke-Sutter-Kennedy
Glass-Vitale-Adams

Orpik-Martin
Letang-Niskanen
Despres-Engelland

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Sidney Crosby is the player to watch in this game since it is his first game against Toronto in over two years. However, Crosby has scored in six straight games against the Maple Leafs. He has not scored in the home opener since 2006 and will be looking to lead his team to a victory in another highly-anticipated matchup.

22-year old center Nazem Kadri, drafted seventh overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by Toronto, has gotten off to a good start with two goals in two games. Kadri did not register any points in his two career games against Pittsburgh, but that could change tonight as he skated with Joffrey Lupul, who just recently signed a five-year contract extension with Toronto.

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