-Greetings from a cold, gray day in Pittsburgh. Its in the mid 20s but thankfully, there's only a little bit of snow. PPG Place:
-The Christmas tree at PPG Place:
-Good news: There is now a Chipotle in Market Square:
-Bad news: It's within walking distance of the Post-Gazette's offices. Well, walking distance until we hit 400 pounds and require some sort of motorized cart to move.
-Plenty of Penguins and Winter Classic gear in Honus Wagner's:
-Burn the Leafs, eh:
-Consol Energy Center:
-We forgot to post this Monday, but there was at least one Hal Gill fan here:
-What rematch do you want to see? Eric Godard-Colton Orr:
-Or Deryk Engelland-Colton Orr:
-The Wallflowers' version of "Heroes" greets fans as they enter the building. There version of that song was part of the opening credits to NHL '99:
-Crosby is kind of popular here. In Team Canada and Rimouski Oceanic form:
-Fans walking in off Centre Avenue:
-Ulf Samuelsson with an "A:"
-Marines are on hand accepting donations for Toys for Tots:
-Curtis J _ _ _ ph:
-Cam Paddock Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Christmas jersey:
-Josef _ _ licar:
-Colby Armstrong is still popular in Maple Leafs form:
-And Penguins form:
-Jersey felony. Wayne Gretzky Campbell Conference:
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Paul Martin, Zbynek Michalek and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Mike Comrie, Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin.
-The Maple Leafs' starters are Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Clarke MacArthur, Tomas Kaberle, Luke Schenn and Jonas Gustavsson.
-Their scratches are Brett Lebda and John Mitchell.
-No Jimerson for the national anthem. Not even a Sarah Marince appearance. No photo.
17:48: Mark Letestu snaps off a wrister from a bad angle. Gustavsson steers it away with his stick blade.
17:05: Michalek tees up a slapper from the right point. It hits Mike Rupp in front.
15:56: Brooks Orpik blasts Grabovski into the right wing boards. Grabovski falls like a ton of bricks with Orpik on top of him.
14:34: The Maple Leafs are nabbed for too many men on the ice. Phil Kessel will serve the minor. Crosby, Kunitz, Letestu, Martin and Kris Letang take the ice.
14:05: Letang rips a shot on net from the right point. Gustavsson knocks it down and covers despite a screen by Kunitz. Kunitz is dumped into the crease by Schenn for his troubles.
13:47: Crosby barges in on net with the puck and is turned away by Gustavsson. As that goes on, Armstrong comes flying in. He appears to tag Crosby with a stiff shoulder. He misses and crashes face first into the cross bar. Crosby takes exception and puts his former teammate into a head lock. Crosby is nabbed for roughing. Four on four for 1:13.
13:38: A wrister by Keith Aulie from the right point is turned away by Fleury.
12:45: Tyler Kennedy has a chance from the right wing. It's loose in the crease but Gustavsson falls backwards on the puck to freeze it.
12:41: Letang rips a wrister from above the right circle. Gustavsson fights it off.
12:34: The Maple Leafs' minor is killed. They will have 47 seconds of power play time.
11:47: The Crosby minor is killed.
11:25: 17 games in a row. Crosby gains the offensive zone on the right wing and deals to Kunitz. Kunitz rips a wrister from the right circle to the far side. It hits the far post and deflects just above the crease. Crosby pokes it on net. It hits off the near post then off the left skate of Gustavsson. Crosby and Kuntiz both reach for it. Crosby gets it first and pokes it into the net. Kunitz and Matt Cooke each get assists. The "Woo-Hoo!" song is played. Penguins 1-0.
9:12: The third line creates another scoring chance with pure and simple speed. Kennedy hustles up the right wing and gains the offensive zone. He deals a pass to the slot. Letestu gets behind the defense, takes a pass and lifts a backhander on net. Gustavsson eats it up.
7:11: Gustavsson covers a loose puck. As that happens, Cooke and Armstrong mix it up. Armstrong kind of takes a passive resistance stance. Asham comes barging in and gives Armstrong the business. Asham gets a roughing minor. Craig Adams, Michalek, Orpik and Pascal Dupuis take the ice.
6:58: Craig Adams blocks a wrister by Tomas Kaberle from the right point.
6:32: Kessel takes a pass in the slot, turns and whips a wrister. Michalek is there to block it out of play with his stick.
6:11: The Asham minor is killed. The Maple Leafs failed to record a shot.
5:08: Francois Beauchemin puts a wrister on net from the right point. Fleury fends it off. That's only the second shot on goal for Toronto.
5:01: Asham rushes up the right wing, gains the zone and uncorks slapper from above the circle. Gustavsson boots it away.
4:28: Orr hits Crosby along the right wing boards in Toronto's zone.
4:13: And we get an Orr-Engelland re-match. Orr invites him to go behind the Penguins' net. Engelland accepts. They lock up, wrestle around a bit. Engelland lands an early right. They wrestle a bit more. Another few rights by Engelland. More wrestling. More wrestling. More wrestling. Orr lands a jab. Another right by Engelland. Orr actually slips at once but recovers. More wrestling. Eventually the officials step in. It was a draw for the most part, but it looked like Engelland landed a few more blows. Both players retreat to their dressing rooms with less than five minutes left in the period.
3:12: Beauchemin whips a wrister from the left point. Kunitz blocks it and is hobbled a bit by the shot.
3:02: Kessel spins and whips a wrister on net from point blank range. Fleury is in perfect position and fends it off.
2:35: With an icing call, Dan Bylsma calls a time out to rest his players. Bylsma has done that quite a bit lately.
2:97: Grabovski guns a slapper from the right circle wayyyyy high of the cage.
1:18: Rupp deals a pass from the left of the Toronto net to Letestu in the slot. Letestu immediately strikes a one-timer on net. Gustavsson gets a piece of it.
0:28: Alex Goligoski drives a one-timer from the right point. Gustavsson gets a piece of it. Cooke is there for the rebound but his stick breaks.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Maple Leafs 0.
-Forget Crosby. How about this defense? We know the Maple Leafs don't have a ton of natural scoring ability, but they have barely had a sniff at the Penguins net. They didn't record a second shot until there was roughly 15 minutes left. And they had two power plays to work with.
-But yeah, that Crosby guy is pretty good.
-The third line continues to be impressive. We still contend its the team's best line in terms of playing as a unit. The first line is pretty much Crosby with Kunitz and Dupuis tagging along.
-Gustavsson was pretty good that period. He's the reason this is still a one-goal game.
-The Penguins control shots, 13-4.
-Letestu leads the game with three.
-No one for Toronto has more than one.
-Beauchemin leads the game with 8:35 of ice time.
-Crosby leads the Penguins with 8:07.
-The Penguins are dominating faceoffs, 14-4 (78 percent).
-Crosby is 9 for 10 (90 percent).
-Grabovski is 1 for 2 (50 percent).
-Beauchemin leads the game with two blocked shots.
18:27: Asham tkaes a puck off Carl Gunnarsson in the left wing corner. He moves towards the net and is denied down low by Gustavsson. A few bodies crash in and the net is dislodged.
17:36: Mike Komisarek whips a wrister from the right point. Conner slides down and blocks it with a body part above his chest. That looked uncomfortable.
16:54: Letang is in deep on theleft wing and puts a wrister on net from a tough angle. Gustavsson fends it off.
15:56: Engelland snaps off a wrister from the right point. Gustavsson boots it away.
15:15: Martin controls the puck at the right point, makes a nifty move by Tyler Bozak and walks in on net. He puts a wrister on net. Gustavsson fights it off despite traffic.
14:50: Cooke uncorks a shot from deep on the right wing. Gustavsson squares up and boots it away.
14:49: The Maple Leafs take another too many men on the ice penalty. Orr will serve it. Crosby, Kunitz, Letestu, Martin and Letang take the ice.
13:36: Letang chops a pedestrian slapper from the top of the slot. Gunnarsson blocks it.
12:50: Conner (5-foot-8, 180 pounds) and Aulie (6-foot-5, 217 pounds) battle for a puck in the left wing corner in Toronto's zone. Conner puts a shoulder into the much bigger Aulie and sticks him on his butt.
12:12: Martin retreats to the locker room. No clue why.
11:57: The Penguins have a sloppy turnover over in their own zone. Armstrong tries chopping a bouncing puck on net but whiffs.
11:21: Martin returns to the bench.
10:39: Grabovski fends off a stick check by Engelland and whips a wrister from the left circle. Fleury steers it away.
10:01: Martin tees up a slapper from the right point. It appears to hit Dupuis in front and deflects behind the cage.
9:50: Adams backhand jabs a loose puck in the slot on net with a backhander. Gustavsson slides to his left and eats it up.
9:45: Off a faceoff in the right circle in Toronto's zone, Martin makes a nice play on the right wing board. He fends off a check
9:35: The Maple Leafs get a chance to tie it up. Adams makes a careless play as he hits Fredrik Sjostrom front behind into the left wing boards in Toronto's zone. That's two minutes for boarding. Michalek, Orpik, Talbot and Cooke take the ice.
9:28: Off the faceoff, Fleury denies Kessel down low.
9:14: Kaberle blasts a slapper from the top of the slot. Michalek blocks it and is hobbled a bit.
8:47: Fleury denies Kaberle in tight. Attendance is announced as 18,158. It is the team's 182nd consecutive sell out.
8:22: Nice to see Dupuis and Kunitz get something done without that bum center of theirs. Duupuis steals a puck off Kaberle at the right point. Kunitz recovers it at center ice and leads a two-on-none with Dupuis. He deals to Dupuis off the right wing. Dupuis moves in, shows backhand then immediately goes forehand and rips a shot over the glove of Gustavsson. What a goal. What a play. Kunitz gets the only assist. Penguins 2-0.
7:35: The Adams minor is killed.
7:26: Adams gets loose off the left wing on another breakaway. He veers towards the slot and from above the crease he snaps a shot high of the cage.
6:47: And the third line produces through pure and simple hustle. Conner and Kennedy out battle Bozak and Aulie for possession of the puck behidn the Toronto net. Kennedy moves around from the right of the cage and deals it to Letestu. Letestu releases a shot which appears to hit a body or two and squeaks under Gustavsson. They simply out-worked the Maple Leafs for that. Kennedy and Conner get assists. The "Woo-Hoo!" song double shifts. Penguins 3-0.
5:14: This is getting absurd almost. Kunitz coasts up the right wing on a two-onone with Crosby against Komisarek. As Komisarek flops down to... well... we're not sure what he was doing there... but as he flops down, Kunitz slides the pass to Crosby who immediately snaps it to the far side by Gustavsson's blocker. Wow. It's his 50th point of the season. Gustavsson breaks his stick in frustration. Penguins fans offer a prolonged standing ovation for their captain. Kunitz and Orpik get assists. The "Woo-Hoo!" song is gassed. Penguins 4-0.
4:55: "M-V-P! M-V-P!" chants rain down.
3:57: Komisarek and Asham drop the gloves along the boards in front of the Penguins' penalty box. Komisarek pins Asham against the boards. The move off them. Komisarek lands a few shots as Asham wrestles loose. Asham tries throwing a few rights but Komisarek's long reach holds him off. Finally Asham is able to sneak low and lands an overhand right as Komisarek slips and falls with Asham on top.
3:13: The Maple Leafs keep making mistakes. Kessel is called for slashing Cooke. Letang, Martin, Crosby, Kunitz and Letest take the ice.
1:13: The Kessel minor is killed. The Penguins did next to nothing with that two minutes.
0:42: Kessel drives a big slapper on net from the right point. Fleury juuust gets a piece of it.
0:15: Versteeg and Fleury make contact in the crease. Fleury whacks Versteeg in the back of his leg with his stick. Versteeg responds by offering slight cross check. Officials blow play dead. Goligoski gives the business to Versteeg. Versteeg and Fleury each get slashing minors. Conner will serve Fleury's minor.
0:00: End of period. Grabovski decides he's tough and tries to Roman-Greco wrestle Orpik. Orpik just kind of holds him off. Nothings comes of it. Penguins 4, Maple Leafs 0.
-There were some concerns that this could be a trap game. Umm... not quite. The Penguins are in complete control of this.
-Forget all the goals, we're still more impressed by the defense. Short of a few chances on the power play, the Maple Leafs have had almost nothing down low.
-This third line gets better and better every game.
-Gustavsson is not getting any help tonight. He deserves better.
-The Penguins control shots, 24-10.
-Letestu leads the game with four shots.
-Kessel leads the Maple Leafs with three.
-Letang leads the game with 17:14 of ice time.
-Schenn leads the Maple Leafs with 16:02.
-Penguins lead in faceoffs, 27-13 (77 percent).
-Crosby is 14 for 19 (74 percent).
-Brent is 2 for 4 (50 percent).
-Michalek, Gunnarsson and Beauchemin each lead the game with three points.
-EN cohort Pat Dougherty spotted another Tarnstrom jersey:
19:35: Crosby was an inch away from another hat trick. Kunitz forces Kaberle into a turnover in the right wing corner. Crosby takes the puck, dekes by Gustavsson's left leg and juuuuuuustttt barely misses punching it over the goal line. Yeesh.
18:16: The minors to Versteeg and Fleury expire. Back to five on five.
16:57: Rupp blasts Kessel with a hip check into the right wing boards from a side angle. Kessel goes down like a brick. Komisarek jumps Rupp. Rupp turns and lands a few rights to the back of Komisarek's noggin. Komisarek then pretty much tackles Rupp to the ice then throws a few punches. That was kind of cheap. Both players get fighting majors. Komiarek gets a roughing minor. Rupp gets a boarding minor. Five on five.
16:17: Rosehill takes a shot at Martin behind the Penguins' net. Play is halted. Martin and Crosby each give the business to Rosehill. Godard comes barreling in and parts the Red Sea splitting Martin and Crosby. He fights Rosehill. A scrum breaks up behidn the Penguins' net.with Godard and Rosehill in the middle of it. They break off from the pack and start fighting. They mostly wrestle around on the boards. Rosehill lands a few shots then falls as Godard lands a shot. A whole boat-load of penalties are doled out. Godard gets a fighting major, an instigator and a 10-minute misconduct. Rosehill gets a fighting major and a charging minor. Crosby gets minors for cross-checking and roughing. The Maple Leafs end up on power play for four minutes. Letang, Martin, Dupuis and Adams take the ice.
15:25: And there goes the shutout. Versteeg blasts a one-timer from the left circle. Fleury makes the save but kicks out a rebound. Kessel swipes it it. It hits a body. Bozak controls the puck down low and lifts a backhander over the right leg of Fleury. Kessel and Versteeg get assists. Penguins 4-1.
15:03: Kaberle guns a one-timer from the right circle. Fleury eats it up.
14:02: Cooke flies up on the right wing and whips a backhander on net shorthanded. Gustavsson fends it off.
12:17: The teams return to even strength.
11:22: Ugh... That was ugly. Grabovski gains the offensive zone and rips a pretty mean looking wrister by the glove hand of Fleury. Ouch. Fleury needs to stop that. Kaberle and Nikolai Kulemin get assists. Penguins 4-2.
10:18: On a delayed penalty, Nazem Kadri goes wide on Martin on the right wing. Martin pokes the puck away and knocks Kadri down for his troubles. The Penguins touch the puck and play is halted. Cooke is sent off slashing Aulie. This game just got a lot more interesting. Dupuis, Orpik, Talbot and Michalek take the ice.
9:29: Kessel snaps off a wrister from the right cicle. Fleury eats it up.
9:24: Off a faceoff, Kaberle whips wrister on net from the top of the slot. Fleury eats it up.
8:20: Martin whips a puck down ice from below his goal line and clears it. That kills off the rest of Cooke's minor.
8:06: Bozak collects a loose puck in the slot and immediately rips a shot on net. Fleury gloves it. That puck appeared to be on end and Bozak couldn't get a clean handle on it.
7:20: Letang has a nice little pick behind the Penguins' net on a forechecker to allow Orpik to skate the puck out of the zone and out of danger.
4:54: Kaberle guns a one-timer from the right circle. Fleury fends it off despite traffic.
4:39: Former Penguin Tim Brent takes a drop pass from Versteeg in the right circle. Brent rips a shot right in to Fleury who eats it up.
3:10: Kaberle taps a pass up to Grabovski at the Toronto blue line. Grabovski is looking down at the puck and BOOM! Conner tags him with a rough shoulder on shoulder check. Ouch. Conner's not shy about throwing around the body.
2:54: And the third line ices this game. Letestu moves in off the right wing wall, plays a bit with Versteeg who flops down for what we suppose was an attempt at a shot block. He lifts a wrister over the glove hand of Gustavsson on the near side. What a shot. It's his second of the game. Goligoski and Kennedy each get assists. The "Woo-Hoo!" song is played. Penguins 5-2.
1:00: With roughly a minute left, the Ric Flair-esque "Woos!" start.
0:07: The remaining fans offer a standing ovation to their team.
0:00: End of game. The "Woo-Hoo!" song is played. Mike Lange tells us about Elvis' whereabouts. Penguins 5, Maple Leafs 2.
-When Dan Bylsma, Ray Shero re-tooled this team this past offseason with a few free agents and a few call-ups from the AHL, they definitely expected their team to be playing better than the squad which unceremoniously fell out of the postseason early last spring. But we can't imagine they expected the team to come together like this.
-Killjoy alert: The Maple Leafs played like trash. After the game, head coach Ron Wilson said, "The turning point of the game was when they dropped the opening faceoff."
-Exiting killjoy zone: It's not even just Crosby. It's not even just Fleury rebounding after a terrible start of the season. It's not even the surprising play of the third line. It's everything. The Penguins are doing all of this as a team. They're scoring tons of goals. Crosby playing the best hockey of his career. Conner, Letestu and Kennedy are terrorizing opponents down low. And the defense is shutting opposing offenses down.
-Short of the power play and the health of Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin, there aren't too many areas this team needs to improve in.
-Dan Bylsma would actually disagree. Bylsma said, "We still think we can get a lot better than how we’re playing right now."
-The penalties were a bit of an issue, especially in the third period.
-Regardless of when Malkin and Staal come back, Conner, Letestu and Kennedy can not be separated. They have found a chemistry which can't be dismissed.
-Crosby's scoring streak is almost boring. Almost. He scores two goals? Meh.
-His 17 games are the longest scoring streak in the NHL this season.
-The Penguins had a 26-25 edge in shots.
-Letestu, Kaberle and Kessel each led the game with five shots.
-Schenn led the game with 24:19 of ice time.
-Letang was right behind him with 24:17.
-The Penguins dominated faceoffs, 44-20 (69 percent).
-Tim Brent was 3 for 6 (50 percent).
-Michalek, who had an outstanding game, led the game with five blocked shots.
-Beauchemin and Gunnarsson each lead the Maple Leafs with three.
-Crosby (556) moved past Kevin Stevens (555) for sixth place on the team's career scoring list. Jean Pronovost is fifth with 603 points.
-Orpik (87) moved past Chuck Arnason (86) for 92nd place.
-Goligoski moved past Greg Hotham for 98th place. Both players have 74 points, but Goligoski (19) has more goals than Hotham (11).