It was a hockey night in Pittsburgh as the doors of the Consol Energy Center opened to hockey fans for the first home game of the season. Optimism was high as the team took to the ice, having gone 2 and 0 thus far in the season, and facing a Toronto Maple Leaf squad that had both a win and a loss under its collective team belt. However, this time ‘round, it would be the Leafs taking the two points, despite losing forward Joffrey Lupul in the process.
Despite being given a clear advantage by most analysts following a strong back-to-back performance over the weekend, it would take the Pens almost nineteen minutes before they would tally their first of the night. Mere moments after it was pointed out by a commentator who shall remain nameless that neither Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby has scored yet this season – despite being just two games in – Geno would earn Pittsburgh’s first of the night and his first of the season with a power play goal in the dying minutes of the period. Toronto’s Mike Komisarek would find himself seated for two minutes following a cross-checking call, giving the Penguins their second power play opportunity of the night. Picking up a pass from Sidney Crosby, Malkin would snipe one past Leafs’ net-minder James Reimer, giving the Pens a go-ahead goal. Toronto would be unable to respond before the first horn.
Whatever momentum the Pens had in the first period swung in favour of the Leafs’ during the second, with Toronto scoring two unanswered goals and tallying a third in the final five minutes of the middle frame. Toronto’s first of the night would come courtesy of a tip-in from Clark MacArthur. Marc-Andre Fleury would be bombarded by a mass of bodies crashing the net and while he would try his best, he would not be able to beat MacArthur who would sneak a puck in from the slot into an opening. Mere moments later it would be James van Riemsdyk giving Toronto the one goal advantage, picking up his own rebound and stuffing it past Fleury. Sidney Crosby, the very same Sidney Crosby who’d been mentioned multiple times as not having scored yet in the three games that have thus composed the season, would temporarily tie the game. Out-racing Leaf’s captain Dion Phaneuf, Crosby would pick up a feed from Pascal Dupuis before effortlessly walking it up the ice and stuff it behind Reimer. Van Riemsdyk, however, would be having none of it, and would return the Leafs’ to a one-goal lead with five and a half minutes left in the second. It should be noted, however, that prior to Toronto’s third goal, the Penguins were successful in killing off five minutes and three seconds of penalties following a tripping call against Deryk Engelland with 12:15 left to go, a slashing call against Matt Cooke with 10:05 remaining and
boarding calling against Kris Letang with 9:12 on the clock. (Toronto would have one call against them that period, a holding of the stick infraction against Michael Kostka.)
In the third, the Penguins would be unable to capitalize on two power play opportunities or a somewhat sloppy Toronto defense. And, rather than holding Toronto to a two-goal lead, they would allow the Leafs two more before the final buzzer. Mikhail Grabovski would beat Fleury with a slap shot just five minutes into the period while Tyler Bozak would cap the Leafs’ goals at five with a power-play tally with a minute left in the period. The power play would come as the result of a too many men call that would be served by Chris Kunitz and an unsportsmanlike given to Crosby. The Leafs would take the game 5-2, handing the Penguins their first loss of the season while earning their second victory of the season.
Kris Letang led all skaters with 27:31 of ice time, while Paul Martin followed with 24:49 and Sidney Crosby earned 24:07. Crosby and James Neal each recorded five shots on goal while Evgeni Malkin had 4. The Penguins fired 30 shots toward Reimer while Fleury faced 24. Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul, as mentioned, left the game early and did not return. It was later revealed he suffered a broken forearm.
The Penguins will rest up for a day before heading to Winnipeg where they will face the Jets. The trip will be the first time Winnipeg fans get to see Sidney Crosby and one has to imagine it may be just as big as his first trip to the Canadian west years ago. Game time is 8:00pm.