-You are reading live from our living room. It should go without saying, but tonight's game is a must win for the Penguins. It's one thing to blow a road game against a hot division leader like New Jersey. It's another thing to lose to a team as poor as the Maple Leafs. The Penguins must get two points tonight if they hope to reach the playoffs.
-The Penguins' scratches are Chris Minard, Paul Bissonnette and Philippe Boucher.
-Toronto's scratches are Jonas Frogren, Ryan Hollweg and Andre Deveaux.
-Mathieu Garon and Vesa Toskala are the starting goaltenders.
-Garon is the first player to wear No. 32 for the Penguins since... Chris Minard all the back on... Jan. 16. Minard switched from No. 32 to No. 14 to accomodate Garon.
-All the Maple Leafs were wearing No. 93 Doug Gilmour jerseys during the warms ups in honor of Gilmour. We wish the Penguins were more proactive in retiring or honoring jersey numbers. How awesome would it be to see 23 players wearing No. 10 Ron Francis jerseys during a warm up?
-We're very disappointed in FSN Pittsburgh for not showing any of the ceremony to honor Gilmour. Instead, they have a tired, old debate between Paul Steigerwald, Bob Errey, Jay Caufield and Rob King over subjects like fighting and the All-Star Lame Game. It's not like those subjects haven't been debated endlessly through any other outlet. If FSN Pittsburgh is concerned over ratings, a ceremony for Gilmour wouldn't do any worse than these four yacking away.
-To its credit, FSN Pittsburgh did show the Canadian national anthem and highlights from the ceremony and highlights from Gilmour's career.
-The Maple Leafs will be wearing a small leaf patch on their shoulders with a No. 93 in it.
-Garon still has his Edmonton-themed helmet on.
19:45: Anton Stralman blasts a shot high.
18:56: Mike Van Ryan zips a shot on net from the left poing. Garon slides over and eats it up.
18:11: Kris Letang gets mashed into the glass by a Maple Leaf.
17:38: Evgeni Malkin has a chance in tight but Brad May is there to break it up.
16:40: Pavel Kubina blasts a slapper from the right point. Garon absorbs it.
16:20: After Maxime Talbot knocks over Stralman in the corner, Satan gets denied in tight twice by Toskala.
15:24: Thomas swats a soft shot on net from the corner. Toskala scoops it up.
15:02: We spotted a pretty good shot of the top of Garon's lid on the Oilers' Web site:
14:48: Replays show one of Satan's chances going off the post.
14:37: John Mitchell moves into the offensive zone on the right wing and zips a pass to Ian White in the slot. White pulls up a bit and whips a backhander by Garon on the blocker side. Not a good way for the Penguins to start. Mitchell and Kubina get assists. Maple Leafs 1-0.
12:45: After a hand pass is called, Eric Godard and Mikhail Grabovski exchange their thoughts on "The Jazz Singer." We think.
11:39: Dominic Moore moves into the offensive zone with speed and whips a wrister on net. Ryan Whitney gets in the way and blocks it wide.
11:22: Garon knocks away a shot by White with his stick.
10:57: Whoa!!!! Where's that been all season? Satan comes screaming up ice down the left wing, winds up and blasts a big slapper by Toskala on the stick side. That was like a Mike Bossy goal. Nice effort by Satan, but Toskala needs to make that save. Talbot gets the only assist. It's only the second goal this month.. heck, this calendar year... for Satan. Maple Leafs 1, Penguins 1.
9:45: Malkin chops a shot on net from the slot. Toskala makes a big save on it.
9:27: Malkin snaps a quick wrister on net. Toskala gloves it.
8:40: Kubina dumps Sykora behind the Toronto net.
8:19: After Ian White pops him with a nice shoulder check, Jordan Staal is nabbed for tripping White.
8:13: Off a faceoff win, Pascal Dupuis whips the puck down ice.
7:40: Anton Stralman winds up and blasts big slapper from the right point. Brooks Orpik blocks it and the puck ricochets down ice.
6:54: Malkin lugs the puck up ice, pulls up in the left faceoff circle, uses Kubina as a screen and zips a low shot five hole. Toskala is there for the save.
6:19: Staal's penalty is killed. Not a lot going on there for the Maple Leafs.
5:52: Tyler Kennedy comes from behind the net and whips a backhander on net. Toskala knocks it down and covers it. Sidney Crosby digs for a rebound and Jeff Finger gives him the business. Finger gets two minutes for high sticking. Whitney, Malkin, Sykora, Crosby and this... Gol...i... gos...ki...guy.. (Are we pronouncing that right?) are on the ice for the power play.
4:46: From the right faceoff circle, Malkin snaps a wrister which Toskala kicks out with his right leg.
4:10: Errey drops some serious knowledge as he points out Alex Ovechkin and Zach Parise are two of the league's top goal scorers for a reason, they each have two of the highest shot totals in the league.
3:49: As Finger's penalty expires, Staal carries the puck towards the net and forces a pass to Kennedy in the slot. A Maple Leaf is there to break up the play. Staal didn't have a great shot there, but at least he had a shot. He needed to take it. The Penguins looked a little bit more organized there on that power play.
2:24: Grabovski trips up Bill Thomas behind the Maple Leafs' net. No call.
2:03: Dupuis winds up and blasts a slapper that's off the mark. Crosby collects the puck of the backboards and tries to tuck it in behind Toskala but can't control the puck. He might not have the best shot in the world, but at least Dupuis isn't afraid to uncork one.
1:51: Crosby gets denied in tight by Toskala.
0:41: Mark Eaton picks up where he left off last night as he makes a baseball slide to block a shot by Lee Stempniak.
0:16: Jason Blake tries to jam in a backhanded wraparound but Kris Legang.
0:03: A long-distance wrister by Thomas is knocked down by Toskala.
0:00: End of period. Maple Leafs 1, Penguins 1.
-A pretty solid period against the Penguins. After Toronto controlled the play early on, the Penguins came back and put a lot of rubber on net.
-Other than the weak goal he gave up to Satan, Toskala has played pretty well so far. He's made a couple nice saves.
-It would be a stretch to say Garon's been tested much in his Penguins debut.
-The Penguins have an 11-4 advantage in shots.
-Malkin leads the game with three shots.
-Satan and Thomas are second with two each.
-The Penguins control faceoffs, 11-7.
-Thomas is 3-for-3 (100 percent).
-Moore leads Toronto going 2-for-3 (67 percent). Fire Ray Shero.
-It's nice to see Kris Letang leading the game with 8:12 of ice time.
-Eaton is second with 7:56. Perhaps Therrien is rewarding him for his stellar game last night.
-Luke Schenn is tops for Toronto with 7:43.
-Whitney leads the game with two blocked shots.
-We found a few more shots of Garon's helmet:
-No wonder Satan scored. He's sporting a Terrible Towel:
-The ceremony for Gilmour is already on YouTube:
-Steeler fans... check that... Pittsburgh fans are everywhere:
-Steigerwald mentions Michel Therrien and Mike Tomlin have exchanged notes. Something tells us Therrien has told Tomlin to put Byron Leftwich in before the start of the second quarter.
16:55: After about three minutes of nothing, Hal Gill makes a poor turnover in the corner. Thankfully it's to Jamal Mayers who throws a shot off the side of the net.
16:18: Garon gloves a shot by Blake. And jersey foul:
(You can't wear a Steelers hat and a Penguins jersey. Geez.)
15:38: Toronto gets caught with too many men on the ice. Stempniak will serve the two minutes. Goligoski, Malkin, Crosby, Sykora and Letang are on for the power play.
15:20: Crosby zips a pass into the slot for Sykora who re-directs it high.
13:41: Staal goes behind the Toronto net with Schenn and Schenn sticks him on his wallet. We know Schenn's a big bruising player, but Staal needs to win that battle considering his size. At the very least, he needs to stay on his skates.
13:30: Grabovski carries the puck up ice, drags it inside a defender and gets denied in tight by Garon. Garon made that save despite having Stempniak right in his grill. Whitney is sent off for hooking.
12:31: Stalman blasts a one-timer wide.
12:07: Stralman tosses a shot on net from the right point. Garon appears to make the inital save. Antropov is right there to bang it home by a prone Garon. Orpik and Rob Scuderi were tied up with Nikolai Kulemin and failed to account for Antropov. Kulemin and Stralman get assists. Maple Leafs 2-1.
11:42: Letang makes a poor pass to Eaton and it gets intercepted by May. Fortunately it's Brad May and he can't actually do anything with it as he fails to get a shot on net from in tight.
10:30: Malkin gets dumped in front of the Penguins bench by a big check by Schenn.
10:24: Orpik blasts a slapper on net. Toskala comes out and eats it up. After a delay, a skirmish develops and it results in Tyler Kennedy and Schenn dropping the gloves. They lock up and Kennedy gets pushed to the ice by Schenn. Schenn shows a lot of "bravery" by throwing punches at Kennedy while he's on the ice. To Kennedy's credit he gets back up but immediately is shoved to the ice again. Give Kennedy (5-foot-11, 183 pounds) credit for going with Schenn (6-foot-2, 216 pounds) who's a lot bigger. How did an extra penalty not get called there? Are you allowed to fight during a line change? Technically, fighting isn't allowed, but you know what we mean.
9:36: Van Ryn blasts a slapper wide of the cage.
9:21: Moore and Scuderi each lose their sticks. Scuderi picks up Moore's blade and tries to play the puck with it. That's two minutes for interference.
8:57: Eaton blocks a point shot by Stralman.
8:40: Letang appears to get away with a trip against Grabovski.
7:50: Stralman blasts a one-timer from the top of the slot. Garon appears to make the save despite traffic.
7:19: As Scuderi's penalty expires, GIll slides out to block a pass by Hagman. Big kill for the Penguins.
7:03: Malkin pops Stempniak with a nice check.
6:24: Blake gets denied on a backhander by Garon.
6:21: Moore collects the rebound off Blake's shot and tosses it towards the net fromt he corner on a blind backhander. Garon attemps to cover it with his glove but Alexei Ponikarovsky is a step faster than him and jabs it through Garon's five hole. Blake and Moore get assists. Fire Ray Shero. Maple Leafs 3-1.
5:29: Cooke gets a feed on the left wing and drives a slapper low. Toskala comes out and kicks the puck away.
4:10: We know Don Cherry was a big Doug Gilmour fan, but this is a little overboard:
3:54: After Toskala makes a save, Crosby and Stajan get into a discussion on the Great Brink's Robbery. We think.
2:14: Crosby comes crashing in on an offsides puck. Antropov and May get into a scrum with Malkin. Other follow and we get a five-on-five scrum.
1:50: Antropov has a bit of a mental breakdown as he slashes Thomas. That's two minutes. The Penguins could use a goal here.
1:54: Malkin re-directs a shot by Letang just wide.
1:24: Crosby gets a feed and is denied in tight by Toskala. Crosby punches the rebound wide.
0:18: Whitney whips a wrister from the right point wide. The Penguins passed the puck around for roughly 30 seconds and that's the shot they elected to take?
0:00: End of period. Maple Leafs 3, Penguins 1.
-That was a pretty bad period for the Penguins. And there's really no reason for it. They are a much more talented team than the Maple Leafs. The only advantage Toronto has over them is effort. The Maple Leafs are outworking them. They're getting to loose pucks, getting to the front of the net and just initiating contact more.
-The Penguins still have a 16-15 edge in shots. Toronto had an 11-5 advantage in the second period.
-Malkin, Satan and Blake each lead the game with three.
-The Penguins have a 19-18 edge in faceoffs.
-Thomas and Moore are each 6-for-9 (67 percent). Fire Ray Shero.
-Letang leads the game with 16:21 of ice time.
-Schenn leads Toronto with 14:38.
-Whitney leads the game with three blocked shots.
-Schenn leads the Maple Leafs with two.
-Bill Thomas reppin' 412:
-Rob King shows some Islanders-Panthers highlights. Last we saw, the Islanders were up, 1-0. A Panthers loss would be helpful to the Penguins, but they need to beat Toronto first or it will be pointless to do any scoreboard watching.
-The Penguins will have a power play for 10 seconds to start the period.
19:05: Cooke drops a pass to Malkin in the left faceoff circle. Malkin drags it by a defender and gets a shot on net. Toskala makes the inital save but gives up a rebound. A big car wreck develops in front of him and Crosby is able to sneak a shot by him. Replays show Cooke maybe getting away with a little interference on Toskala. Either way, that's a huge goal for the Penguins. Malkin and Cooke get assists. Maple Leafs 3-2.
18:13: A shot by Van Ryn deflects out of play.
17:27: The Penguins respond to Crosby's goal by allowing Matt Stajan to set up a mailing address in front of the net for a goal. Schenn works the puck up the right wing and gets it into Stajan in front. Stajan is untouched and he puts it by Garon. Inexcusable. Schenn and Stempniak get the assists. Maple Leafs 4-2.
17:00: May has a chance in tight but can't cash in. Cooke is called for tripping. Big penalty kill here for the Penguins.
16:34: Steigerwald calls Thomas the "new Mike Zigomanis."
15:47: White bombs a slapper from the right point. Garon kicks it out with a "thud."
15:39: Malkin gets dumped by White. White should've been given credit for a tackle on that play.
15:20: Kubina hammers a slapper from the left point.
15:00: Cooke's penalty expires.
14:48: Cooke mashes Kulemin behind the Penguins' net.
14:27: The Penguins get it back. Whitney gets a feed at the right point. He winds up and blasts a slapper. Malkin and Cooke are there setting up a screen. The puck appears to get deflectd by Toskala on the glove side. Malkin gets credit for the goal. Whitney and Crosby get assists. Maple Leafs 4-3.
13:13: Kennedy comes down the right wing and simply blasts a slapper from near the point. The puck sails on net and beats Toskala on the far side. Wow. Replay show the puck potentially getting deflected by a Toronto defender. Either way, Toskala needs to make that save. Dupuis gets the only assist. Maple Leafs 4, Penguins 4.
12:30: Errey makes a heck of a point that with Toskala having the worst save percentage in the league among any starter, the Penguins need to get more pucks on net.
12:09: Garon appears to get a piece of a nice shot by Grabovski.
11:40: Garon steers a shot off to the corner.
9:55: Ugh. This game is just out of control. Kubina blasts a slapper from the right point. It hits a cluster of bodies in front. Jason Blake picks it up and rips it by a helpless Garon. He had no idea where the puck was. Kubina gets the only assist. Maple Leafs 5-4.
9:00: Crosby dishs a feed to Malkin who immediately puts a slapper on net from the slot. Toskala hangs on for the save. A scrum develops. White and Cooke are sent off for roughing. That's two minutes each. Four-on-four.
8:28: "GO LEAFS GO! GO LEAFS GO!"
6:59: As the Cooke and White penalties expires, Satan and Finger battle for a loose puck in the corner. Finger knocks Satan off the puck with a check that couldn't rip tissue paper. (If that makes sense). In other words, Finger didn't need to put a lot of effort into that.
5:28: Gill and a Maple Leafs player have a car wreck near the boards.
5:09: Mitchell uses Whitney as a screen and zips a shot wide.
4:40: Moore sails a shot through the slot.
4:20: Whitney snaps a wrister off from the right point. It hits a leg in front.
4:00: Malkin jabs a feed from Crosby wide.
3:30: Malkin feeds a pass to Cooke but Cooke fires the shot wide.
3:22: Goligoski tosses a shot on net. Toskala makes the save but has trouble with the rebound. The Penguins can't punch it in.
2:55: Mayers has a clean shot on net but is denied in tight by Garon. Huge save by Garon.
2:34: Satan shuffles backhander on net which Toskala steers away.
2:14: Letang touches up for icing behind the Penguins net.
2:02: The Maple Leafs ice the puck again. They're going to keep doing that until the game is over.
1:21: Whitney drives a slapper from the right point. It hits a stick in front and hops up over the net.
0:43: Garon is pulled for an extra attacker.
0:32: Play is halted after the Penguins are called for a hand pass. The Penguins call a time out to organize a night everyone can come over to watch "My Blue Heaven." We think:
0:03: Malkin runs over a Maple Leaf with a check near the boards.
0:00: End of period. Maple Leafs 5, Penguins 4.
-The mission for the Penguins coming out of the All-Star break has been pretty clear. Just about every game is do or die. While last night's loss was extremely disappointing, it was acceptable on some level considering it was a road game against a very good Devils team which has been ripping it up as late. And at the very least, the Penguins got a point out of it. Tonight's loss might've been a back breaker for the Penguins' hopes. There aren't many easy games on the Penguins' schedule the rest of the way and this might've been one of the only ones left the rest of the way. At least on paper. The Maple Leafs don't have a great deal of talent. They're a rebuilding team. Their only All-Star, defenseman Tomas Kaberle, was out of the lineup. Vesa Toskala came into the game with a lot of problems. The Penguins were a desperate team and they needed this two points. There was no reason they should've lost this game.
-Actually, there was one reason. Effort. The Maple Leafs had a far superior effort. They got to loose pucks. They went to the net. They initiated the physcial play. That was the only advantage Toronto had tonight and that's why they won.
-After a loss like this, you have to wonder if the playoffs are really a realistic endeavor for the Penguins. They're hardly mathematically eliminiated. They're only a handful of points away from a playoff seed, but they just can't seem to get it together for more than a couple games at a time. And if they do get into the playoffs, how will they preform against a team like Boston or Washington? They could get blown out like the Senators did last season.
-This loss was even more disappointing when you realize two of the Penguins goals, Satan's and Kennedy's, were kind of fluky. Satan scored a soft goal on Toskala and Kennedy's appeared to get deflected by the Toronto goaltender.
-While the defense in front of him was poor, Mathieu Garon was disappointing in his debut. The Maple Leafs had carte blanche at times tonight in terms of where they were taking shots, but sometimes, your goaltender needs to steal some goals.
-It's hard to blame Malkin or Crosby for any of the troubles tonight. They each had a goal and an assist. You can't ask much more than than on offense from any player.
-The Maple Leafs should not be able to get into a run-and-gun game with the Penguins and come away with a win. The Penguins have the top two scorers in the league. The Maple Leafs have... Nik Antropov.
-Brook Orpik was hardly stellar tonight. Three of the Maple Leafs' goals, Ponikarovsky's, Antropov's Stajan's, were the result of each player have nice positioning in front of the cage and Orpik was on the ice for all of them. You would hope a physical player like Oprik could keep opponents away from the crease. We wonder if he's still rusty from his injury.
-For what it's worth, Scuderi was on the ice for all three of those goals as well. It's been a pretty rough two games for the normally reliable Scuderi. He had a pretty poor game against New Jersey last night.
-We can accept that Michel Therrien is slow to trust offensively-gifted defensemen who have shortcomings defensively (see Tarnstrom, Dick; Jackman, Ric; Whitney, Ryan) but what deficiencies does Alex Goligoski have that the other eight defensemen haven't displayed at one time or another this season?
-The power play is still terrible. We're starting to think arguing over personnel is irrelevant.
-Did anyone see Jordan Staal?
-Shots were even, 26-26.
-Malkin led the game with six shots.
-Blake led Toronto with five.
-With a goal and an assist, Blake moved his career numbers against the Penguins to 45 points (22 goals, 23 points) in 45 games.
-The Penguins had a 29-23 advantage in faceoffs.
-Thomas ripped it up again going 10-for-14 (71 percent).
-Mitchell led Toronto going 5-for-8 (63 percent).
-Van Ryn led the game with 25:17.
-Letang led the Penguins with 23:16.
-It was nice to see Satan get a goal, but he has no business getting more ice time (16:43) than Petr Sykora (15:45).
-Whitney rebounded after last night to have a solid game. He led the game with four blocked shots.
-Schenn was tops on Toronto with three.