Recap: Game 13- Penguins vs. Maple Leafs

Tyler Bozak and Mark Letestu battle along the boards. Photo by Brad White/Getty Images

The Penguins traveled to the the Air Canada Centre for their thirteenth game in 26 days, looking to extend their winning streak to six games against the Northwest Division-leading Toronto Maple Leafs.

The injury bug bit again as Jordan Staal did not make the trip to Toronto, sidelined with a lower-body injury stemming from his hit on John Tavares during Thursday night’s game. But the main storyline was, of course, that Phil Kessel and James Neal were tied for the league lead in goals, each having scored nine going into the game.

Kessel and Neal’s back-and-forth, “anything you can do, I can do better!” set the theme for the overall game. The Leafs started off the scoring about halfway through the first period. Evgeni Malkin went to the box for holding and Toronto’s Mikhail Grabovski put home a power play goal; the first one the Penguins had given up on the road all season.

Pittsburgh tied the game in the second period with Matt Cooke’s fourth goal of the season. Unfortunately, the tie only last about a minute and a half. Malkin took his second penalty of the game and it only took Tim Connolly 17 seconds into the power play to give Toronto a 2-1 lead. Needless to say, the Pens- who had only given up one power play goal all season coming into the game- certainly missed Staal’s penalty-killing abilities.

The Penguins responded with a power play goal of their own from Chris Kunitz after Matthew Lombardi was whistled for hooking, tying the game 2-2 after 40 minutes of play.

The back-and-forth pace continued in the third period. Clarke MacArthur, one of those guys who always seems to look forward to playing the Penguins, scored early on to make it 3-2, only to see Malkin tie the game yet again on a power play goal from Kris Letang and James Neal. It wasn’t Malkin’s best all-around played game of the season (he’s had a habit of taking stupid penalties throughout his career), but he did register an assist in addition to his PP goal while also winning 48.15% of his faceoffs.

It looked as if the Penguins were going to mount another comeback, as they did against the Islanders on Thursday night, until Phil Kessel, who had mostly been contained by Pittsburgh and only registered two shots all night, put a wrist shot past Brent Johnson for his league-leading tenth goal of the year, sealing the 4-3 win for Toronto- the first time all year that any team has put up more than three goals against the Penguins.

The Penguins do not play again until Thursday night, where they kick off a short California road trip against the San Jose Sharks after getting some well-deserved rest.

Three Stars:
1. Phil Kessel
2. Dion Phaneuf
3. Jonas Gustavsson