You are reading live from Mellon Arena on a cold night one day before the official start of winter.
As fans file into the arena, they are greeted with Andy Williams' "Most Wonderful Time of the Year:"
-That's followed up by The Killers' "Read My Mind:"
Gene Autry's "Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer:"
-All of those sounds pale in comparison to:
-A few jerseys we have seen:
(The hood jersey foul rule does not come in to play here since the hood does not obstruct the name.)
-The last time we posted a Petr Sykora jersey, he scored his first career hat trick. So for the sake of our fantasy team:
-As if this jersey wasn't an antique already:
(We're pretty sure that's a jersey foul of some sort. We need to sort through the fine print for a clarification on that one.)
(This gentleman recognized his jersey foul and pulled his hood up.)
-Dan Quinn from his second tenure with the Penguins during the 1996-97 season:
-Vesa Toskala and Marc-Andre Fleury are the starting goaltenders.
-The Penguins' scratches are Pascal Dupuis and the great Mike Zigomanis.
-Mike Van Ryn and Ryan Hollweg are Toronto's scratches.
-The Penguins' "blue" on-ice video projection set to The Who's "Baba O'Riley" is played:
-No Jeff Jimerson for the national anthems. Bummer.
-We didn't hear any booing during "O Canada." Way to be Pittsburgh.
-Just like the Penguins, the Maple Leafs are wearing their "ruffled leaf" throwback tonight.
18:56: Matt Cooke takes a pass in the slot and chops a shot on net. Toskala knocks it away.
18:34: Brooks Orpik blasts Niklas Hagman right at the Penguins' blue line. WHat a hit.
17:42: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
17:34: Jonas Frogren tosses a wrister on net from the left point. Fleury fights it off.
16:26: Lee Stempniak comes up ice and fires a wrister which gets deflected. He collects the rebound and pushes it into the crease where Fleury
15:52: Evgen Malkin leaves the ice after getting crunched into the boards by Frogren.
14:22: Despite getting run over by Jason Blake, Fleury is able to fight off a wrister.
13:16: Hagman blasts a slapper that's off the mark.
13:04: After a scramble near the net, Fleury covers a loose puck in the slot. Hagman and Orpik exchange cross checks. Ryan Stone is sent off for roughing. Jordan Staal, Mark Eaton, Philippe Boucher and Maxime Talbot are on for the penalty kill.
12:15: Pavel Kubina controls the puck and blasts a slapper from the right wing. Fleury gets a piece of it with the inside of his elbow. It trickles through into the crease where Dominic Moore goes all Michel Ouellet and cleans up the garbage. That's a terrible goal for Fleury to give up. Malkin returns to the ice following the goal. The always solid contingent of Toronto fans offer a cheer. Kubina and Thomas Kaberle get assists. Maple Leafs 1-0.
11:59: Malkin comes up the left wing and leaves a pass for Ruslan Fedotenko who whiffs on the shot.
11:41: Alexei Ponikarovsky is called for cross checking. Petr Sykora, Jordan Staal, Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Boucher are on for the power play.
11:13: Staal is nabbes for cross checking. Four on four for 1:32.
10:11: Ummm.... guess Malkin's OK. Mark Eaton of all people hits him with a fantastic pass down the middle. Malkin takes it, moves into the offensive zone, blows by Jamie Sifers like he's standing still and approaches the net. He moves from the forehand to the backhand and slides the puck behind Toskala. What a goal. The "Hey Song" is played. Eaton and Satan get assists. Maple Leafs 1, Penguins 1.
9:41: Ponikarovsky's penalty expires. Toronto will have a power play for 28 seconds.
9:13: Staal's penalty expires.
8:57: Blake controls the puck near the right wing and slides a backhanded pass to Jeremy Williams who blasts a one-timer that burns Fleury. That was another bad goal for Fleury there. Talbot and Blake exchange their thoughts on California v. Greenwood. We think. Blake and Kaberle get assists. Maple Leafs 2-1.
8:11: Malkin carries the puck into the offensive zone. Toronto goon Andre Deveraux tries to catch him with a check. Malkin sends him spinning into the air with a shoulder.
7:04: Fleury's having a rough night. Frogen takes a pass on the left wing and simply blows a slapper by him on the stick side. Yeesh. That was bad. Nik Antropov and Matt Stajan get assists. Maple Leafs 3-1.
6:55: Fleury covers a loose puck in the slot. He's given a bit of a Bronx cheer.
5:02: Jeff Taffe blasts a slapper that's off the mark.
3:19: Fedotenko dumps Tomas Kaberle with a check behind the Toronto net.
1:22: After a whistle, Frogen dumps Talbot near the Toronto net. A scrum ensues.
0:35: A wrister by Jeff Finger from the left side misses the net.
0:15: Sykora takes a pass in the slot and fires a wrister that gets deflected.
0:08: Crosby gets hit to the ice with a nice check inside the Toronto blue line.
0:00: End of period. Maple Leafs 3, Toronto 1.
-That was a pretty bad period for the Penguins, especially Fleury. He just doesn't seem sharp tonight. Don't be surprised to see Dany Sabourin tonight.
-Fleury's defense hasn't helped him much. The Penguins are being outshot, 16-6.
-No player has more than two shots.
-The Penguins have a 10-9 edge in faceoffs.
-Staal is perfect going 4-for-4.
-Moore leads the Maple Leafs going 5-for-8 (63 percent).
-Finger leads the game with 8:14 of ice time.
-Boucher leads the Penguins with 7:54.
-Boucher leads the game with two blocked shots.
-We neglected to mention it earlier but Fleury is wearing his regluar white pads instead of those throwback brown ones.
-We can't see it from up here, but EN commenter "truby2000" has told us the stitching on Fleury's nameplate has come loose. Fire Dana Heinze.
-Fleury is in net for the second period.
19:35: Cooke tries to tee up Blake behind the Penguins' net but the Maple Leaf forward manages to fight off the check.
18:08: Orpik gets piece of Stajan just inside the Penguin's blue line.
17:45: Rob Scuderi dumps Stempniak in the corner.
17:22: Fleury knocks down a shot and covers it in the crease.
17:08: Tim Wallace outraces Frogren for a puck behind the Toronto net and negates an icing call.
16:16: Malkin is called for hooking. He protests the call but is sent off. Staal, Cooke, Eaton and Scuderi are on for the kill. We like seeing Cooke on. He killed penalties for years in Vancouver and we've wanted to see Michel Therrien use him more in this situation.
14:45: Hagman rips a wrister that Fleury gets a piece of.
14:30: Fleury knocks away another wrister by Hagman.
14:14: As Malkin's penalty expires, Mikhail Grabovski whips a wrister on net which Fleury fights off.
13:01: Stone appears to get away with a bit of elbow again Sifers.
12:50: Attendance is announced as 17,053.
12:35: Finger fires a slapper from the left point which Fleury snags. Fleury's looked a lot better this period.
12:28: Ian White whips a backhander that goes through the crease.
11:55: Antropov fires a wrister which is off the mark.
11:36: Stempniak fires a wrister from the slot. Fleury kicks it out but gives up a rebound. A Leafs forward jumps on it but fires it wide.
11:29: Malkin tries to scoop up a rebound in the corner and tries charge through the slot with it. Huh? Hagman takes it right off him and puts it by a helpless Fleury. What was Malkin doing there? That was really stupid. The goal is unassisted but Malkin should get a helper. Maple Leafs 4, Penguins 1.
10:46: Talbot gets smashed against the boards.
10:14: Kaberle fires a wrister from the slot that misses the mark. Toronto is just controlling the play. Penguins fans are booing the effort of their team.
9:45: A slapper by Kris Letang from the left point is deflected away.
9:22: Crosby charges into the offensive zone with the puck, spins and whips a backhander on net which Toskala gloves. That's the Penguins second shot on net this period. Geez.
9:04: Miroslav Satan jumps on a loose puck in the slot, moves to the backhander and is denied by a fantastic leg save by a prone Toskala.
8:50: Finger drives the puck down the slot and fires a wrister which Fleury knocks away.
8:33: Talbot's had a rough night. He's slow to get up after being dumped again.
7:17: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
7:03: Toronto coach Ron Wilson calls a time out to organize a Boggle tournament. We think.
6:11: A slapper by Sykora is deflected just wide.
5:43: Ponikarovsky drives to the net from the corner and tries to jam a puck in. Fleury manages to keep it out despite a cluster of bodies in the crease.
5:21: Godard tries to fight Deveaux who wants nothing to do with it. Smart play by Deveaux. His team has nothing to gain out of a fight. He holds back as Godard has him by his collar. Godard is sent off for roughing. Talobt, Crosby, Eaton and Scuderi are on for the penalty kill.
4:21: A shot by Blake is deflected.
3:47: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
3:40: Antropov controls the puck in the slot and dishes it to Kubina the left point. Kubina winds up and fires a slapper which Fleury doesn't appear to see at all. It wasn't a strong goal by any means. Antropov and Kaberle get assists. Deveaux should get one for not fighting and getting his team a power play. A few "Flerrrr.... Eeeeeee... Flerrrr.... Eeeeeee..." chants from Toronto fans can be heard. Maple Leafs 5-1.
1:50: Malkin rushes up the left wing and pumps a slapper that's off the mark.
0:58: Staal runs into Toskala who falls over. No penalty.
0:23: Sykora rifles a wrister which Toskala denies.
0:19: Sifes punches Cooke in the back of the head for charging into the crease. They drop the gloves and wrestle behind the Toronto net. Cooke gets the best of the "fight" as they fall over. They' don't even get fighing majors for that. Wow. Sifers gets a double minor for roughing while Cooke only gets one. Sykora, Crosby, Malkin, Fedotenko and Letang are on for the power play.
0:00: End of period. The Penguins skate off the ice to some booing. Maple Leafs 5, Penguins 1.
-What a terrible effort tonight by the Penguins. There's no reason they should be getting beaten this badly by a team this poor in talent. Toronto's just out-working them. And by a large margain.
-Fleury looked a little better that period. The fouth Toronto was in no way his fault. Malkin just made a bad play and Toronto appeared to have a solid screen set up on their fifth goal.
-Toronto is dominating in shots, 33-13. Wow.
-Other than Toskala, the only Maple Leafs without a shot on goal are Stajan, Kaberle and Sifers.
-Finger leads the game with four shots.
-Sykora leads the Penguins with three.
-Toronto has a 21-15 lead in faceoffs.
-Malkin is tops for the Penguins going 5-for-9 (56 percent).
-Former Penguin Dominic Moore is ripping it up going 11-for-15 (73 percent.) Fire Ray Shero.
-Kaberle leads the game with 16:47 of ice time.
-Malkin leads the Penguins with 15:35.
-Boucher leads the game with three blocked shots.
-Ian White leads Toronto with two.
-The Penguins will get 1:40 of power-play time on clean ice. If they have any hope for a comeback, they need a goal right off the bat this period.
-Dany Sabourin has replaced Fleury. Sabourin is wearing his brown old school pads.
-Crosby, Malkin, Sykora, Staal and Letang are on for the power play.
19:11: Sykora slides a puck through the crease.
19:02: Malkin controls the puck in the left faceoff circle. He shoots but his shot gets blocked by Frogren. Malkin grabs the rebound and dishes it to Sykora who sneaks in and is able to jam it by Toskala. The Penguins really needed that. Malkin and Letang get assists. "Hey Song." Maple Leafs 5-2.
18:00: Fedotenko and Frogren race for a puck in the corner. Each of the fall and spill into boards.
17:45: Frogren is called for tripping. Crosby, Malkin, Sykora, Staal and Letang are on for the power play.
16:39: Sykora trips up Blake at the Toronto blue line. That's two minutes. Sykora complains but no dice. We'll have four-on-four for 55 seconds.
16:30: Goligoski's legs get taken out in front of the Penguins' bench. No call.
15:56: Blake blasts a slapper that's off the mark.
15:45: Frogren's penalty expires. Toronto will have 1:05 of power-play time.
14:37: After an Ian White shot is deflected wide, Malkin makes another bad turnover. Stajan takes it off him and moves it to Ponikarovsky who rips a wrister by Sabourin on the stick side. Ugly. Stajan gets an assist. Maple Leafs 6-2.
14:15: A scrum in front of the net results in two Maple Leafs trying to go at it with Godard.
13:41: Antropov slides a pass across the slot to Stempniak who fires a low wrister. Sabourin eats it up. Crosby is sent off for cross checking. Replays show him taking shots at Hagman all the way down the ice. Eaton, Scuderi, Cook eand Staal are on for the penalty kill.
11:50: Antropov blasts a slapper which Sabourin fights off.
11:41: This is getting brutal. Sifres fires a slapper at the top of the slot. It hits a cluster of bodies and bounces just right for Antropov who punches it into an empty cage by an out-of-place Sabourin. Sifers and Stajan get assists. "GO LEAFS GO!" chants can be heard. Maple Leafs 7-2.
11:15: Malkin fires a wrister from the right wing which Toskala denies.
10:10: Right off the faceoff, Godard tries to start something with Blake. What's the point? Godard is kicked off the ice. He's given a cross checking minor and a 10-minut misconduct. It was kind of funny seeing the much larger Godard (6-foot-4, 227 pounds) trying to start something with Blake (5-foot-10, 180 pounds). Staal, Cooke, Orpik and Scuderi are on for the penaly kill.
9:59: A slapper by Moore rings off the post.
8:25: After shot sails out of play, a scrum develops near the Penguins' net. Nice to see the Penguins finally put some effort into something tonight.
8:10: Godard's minor penalty ends without much of a threat by Toronto.
7:52: Eaton leaves the ice with a bit of a limp.
7:35: As play is halted, Sykora is seen yelling at an official.
7:22: Toskala denies a few chances in tight.
6:55: After another turnover by Malkin in his own end, Hagman rips a wrister that hits the side of the net.
5:41: Cooke hits Frogren behind the Toronto net.
5:10: Orpik stops John Mitchell in his tracks with a check at the Penguins' blue line. This place is like a morgue in here. It's so quiet.
4:43: Antropov drives a one-timer that's off the mark.
3:45: Wallace is denied on a wrap-around attempt.
2:59: Boucher collects a puck at the left point and fires a slapper. Sykora is in front and tips it by Toskala on the glove side. Nifty goal. "Hey Song." Goligoski and Boucher get assists. Maple Leafs 7-3.
2:22: Fedotenko and Deveaux drop the gloves? Huh? Fedotenko has a nice showing and lands a few rabbit punches but he has no business fighting Deveaux. The fight ends when they fall over.
1:52: Orpik chases a puck into the corner. Antropov is there and clips Orpik with a high stick drawing blood. That's a double minor. Boucher, Goligoski, Sykora, Staal and Cooke are on for the power play.
1:28: Sykora blasts a slapper on net that misses the mark.
1:23: Another slapper by Sykora hits a body in front.
0:02: A wild shot by Stone at the blue line is denied by Toskala.
0:00: End of game. As the horn sounds, Blake is cross checked to the ice by Stone. Officials seperate them. Letang skates by Blake and gives him a bump. Maple Leafs 7, Penguins 3.
-It's pretty simple what happened tonight. The Penguins came out flat, were undisciplined and were outworked by Toronto. There was no excuse for getting beaten this badly tonight. Toronto is a team which has to work hard in order to win games. If the Penguins match that effort, they win.
-The lack of discipline by the Penguins was really alarming to us. They took a lot of selfish penalties. Additionally, Malkin took a lot of chances in his own end that led to some scoring opportunities for Toronto.
-Fleury was not good to be kind. He was very sharp Thursday in Atlanta but completely fell apart tonight after some bad goals.
-Blake looked like he was still wearing an Islanders jersey with the way he was tormenting some of the Penguins. When he was in New York, he would just get under the skin of the Penguins constantly.
-Antropov really stood out tonight in our opinion. He had a goal and two assists. We hate to be the source of a rumor, but he is an unrestricted free agent at end of the season. He's a large body (6-foot-6, 230 pounds) and he can play all three forward positions. It would be nice to see him in a Penguins uniform.
-Again, please don't take this as a rumor. We're just suggesting he would be a nice addition.
-Toronto dominated in shots, 40-23.
-Sykora led the game with seven shots.
-Finger, Stempniak and Blake led the Maple Leafs with four shots.
-Toronto had a 31-25 advantage in faceoffs.
-Moore got his revenge against the Penguins going 13-for-21 (62 percent). Fire Ray Shero.
-Malkin led the Penguins going 7-for-12 (58 percent).
-White led the game with 23:28 of ice time.
-Boucher led the Penguins with 21:37.
-Scuderi, Eaton and Boucher led the game with three blocked shots.
-Finger, White and Frogren led Toronto with two.
-Sykora's two goals moved him past Dean Prentice for 86th place on the list. Sykora now has 90 points to Prentice's 89. Jordan Staal also has 90 career points with the Penguins, but he ranks ahead of Sykora because he has 52 goals to Sykora's 40.
-The Penguins are now 1-2-0 this season in their blue uniforms and have been outscored 11-9 in them. Fire Dana Heinze.
-Michel Therrien was brief, but frank when addressing his team's leadership after the game.