The Penguins continue on the road, this time riding into Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs. Despite earning an early 3 to 1 lead, the Penguins would battle an aggressive Toronto team who would battle back to tie the game, sending it into overtime and then to a shootout.
Pittsburgh was quick to the draw to start the first, their first goal coming with just 0:36 off the clock. James Neal, earning his 16th of the season, would pick up a pass from Malkin off the face-off and bury it behind Leafs’ net-minder James Reimer. The Leafs, however, were quick to tie the game, their first coming on a power-play following a hi-sticking call against Beau Bennett. The goal was credited to James Van Riemsdyk. The Penguins found themselves on a five-on-three opportunity for 39 seconds when Korbinian Holzer was called for holding the stick with 8:56 off the clock and Mike Kostka was called for a delay-of-game with 10:17 gone. Pittsburgh couldn’t capitalize with the advantage but it would be Sidney Crosby brining the Penguins ahead with just over five and a half minutes left in the period. Creating a buzz of activity in front of the net, Kris Letang would send the puck across Reimer’s crease to Crosby who would tap in the rebound. Before the end of the first, Bennett’s second goal of the season would put the Pens up by two. Toronto’s turn around at the blue line allowed Evgeni Malkin to send a blind pass to Paul Martin who’s shot was buried by Bennett. Heading into the second, Pittsburgh led 3 to 1 while outshooting the Leafs 13 to 5.
The Leafs’ second of the evening came with just over ten minutes gone in the second, the opportunity coming when Sidney Cosby was called for a trip against Nazem Kadri, sending Toronto to the mad advantage. Just seventeen seconds into the power play, Cody Franson, earning his second of the season, brought the Leafs to within a goal, the board reading 3 to 2. Pascal Dupuis’ ninth of the season increased the Pens’ lead to two again. Collecting a rebound below the goal line, Dupuis would send the puck around the net, from behind, where it would bounce off the skate of Toronto’s Mark Fraser before banking off the inner pad of Reimer and tricking over the line and into the net. Clark MacArthur brought it to within a goal for Toronto with six minutes left in the period. Pittsburgh would earn a late power play when Carl Gunnarsson was called for a slash with a three and a half minutes left in the second frame. Pittsburgh couldn’t capitalize and heading into the third, the board reading 4 to 3 for the Pens.
The only goal of the third came with 4:20 left in the game courtesy of Phil Kessel following a big penalty kill by the Penguins. Neither team could pull ahead in the dying minutes and thus, the game was headed to overtime.
The extra five minute period wouldn’t be enough, even though Sidney Crosby came within mere inches of taking it in the final minute of overtime. The solution? A shootout. Marc-Andre Fleury would deny Tyler Bozak no problem while James Neal would beat Reimer fair and square. Nazem Kadri couldn’t beat Fleury but Crosby would have no issues walking the puck into Toronto’s net. The Penguins would take two points, cushioning their hold on top spot of the Atlantic Division.
Kris Letang had 20:23 of ice time to lead all Pittsburgh skaters while Sidney Crosby had 25:10. James Neal registered 7 shots on goal while Pascal Dupuis had six, contributing to the 41 Pittsburgh sent toward the Leafs’ net. Marc-Andre Fleury faced 26 shots. Paul Martin, James Neal and Kris Letang each earned 2 points tonight.
The Penguins will return to Pittsburgh where they will meet the New York Islanders tomorrow evening. Game time is 7:00pm.