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Maple Leafs at Penguins - 03-07-12

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

PREGAME

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-Greetings from what is a pretty awesome day in Pittsburgh. It's awesome from a weather standpoint and it's also awesome from a hockey standpoint.

-We put together a post on the new barn here.

-Guess what number is popular  here today:

-No. Not quite. How about this:

-Thre are a few Toronto fans here. Dion Phaneuf:

-The ice:

-The rink:

-The Penguins will surprisingly start Brad Thiessen tonight for his second career game. The news of that move raised a few eyebrows considering the Penguins aren't playing on back to back nights.

-The Penguins are wearing their blue Frankenstein mish-mash jerseys. A poor choice in our opinion. On a day you honor Mario Lemieux, why not wear the team's normal colors?

-Another odd choice, Chris Kunitz on the cover of Icetime:

-Some sights around the barn. Guess who is popular tonight:

-Ulf Samuelsson:

-Fans walking in of Center Avenue:

-Plenty of Maple Leafs fans on hand:

-Phil Kessel:

-Joffrey Lupul:

-Wendell Clark:

-Darryl Sittler:

-Wow. A Colby Armstrong Thrashers jersey:

-Jerseys of the Night: Who else would it be?

 

(We'll let that one slide even if it's a jersey foul.)

-Warm ups:

-The Penguins' starters are Matt Cooke, Tyler Kennedy, the great Joe Vitale, Ben Lovejoy, Brian Strait and Brad Thiessen.

-Their scratches are Deryk Engelland, Dustin Jeffrey, Brent Johnson, Kris Letang and Eric Tangradi.

-The Maple Leafs' starters are Carter Ashton, Tim Connolly, Joey Crabb, John-Michael Liles, Dion Phaneuf and Jonas Gustavsson.

-Their scratches are Colby Armstrong, Matthew Lombardi, Joffrey Lupul and Luke Schenn.

-Some surprises in Toronto's lineup. They're going with Gustavsson for the second night in a row. And benching Lombardi and Schenn is surprising.

-A pregame video tribute to Lemieux is played on the video board set to Tina Turner's "Simply The Best."

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-The loudest ovation for any segment is Lemieux's dramatic goal against the North Stars in the 1991 Stanley Cup.

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-Who else but Jeff Jimerson would be here tonight?

FIRST PERIOD

19:24: The great Joe Vitale chips a puck into the neutral zone from the right wing wall. Ashton, a rookie in his NHL debut, tries to put the wood to Vitale but Vitale braces for the hit and sticks Ashton on his wallet.

17:56: Off a faceoff win in the left circle of the Penguin's zone, Matt Niskanen chips a wrister from the left point. It hits something in front and trickles just wide.

16:53: Arron Asham nearly gets one. He pushes the pcuk through the netural zone, cuts across the ice, gains the offensive zone on the right wing, skates by Cody Franson and pushes a forehand shot on net. Gustavsson makes the initial save. Craig Adams follows up on the rebound and chips it over the cage.

15:25: Niskanen chops a slapper from the right point. It hits something in front and bounces wide.

14:45: Steve Sullivan pushes the puck up the right wing, winds up and cranks a slapper on net. Gustavsson knocks it dead and covers.

13:27: The Maple Leafs finally get a shot on net. Nikolai Kulemin controls the puck in the right wing corner of the Penguins' zone, turns off a check from Martin and hustles his way to the right circle. He shuffles a soft wrister on net. Thiessen covers for an easy save.

13:21: Off a faceoff in the right circle of the Penguins' zone. Zbynek Michalek is high sticked by Jay Rosehill. That's two minutes. Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Matt Niskanen and Steve Sullivan take the ice.

13:03: Neal controls a puck on the right wing boards deep in the Penguins zone and snaps off a wrister to Malkin in the left circle. Malkin takes the pas, looks up holds the puck and rips a wrister which Gustavsson gloves.

12:26: Connolly pushes the puck up the right wing, spins off a check from Malkin and deals a pass to Kulemin trailing. Kulemin snaps off a wrister from above the right circle which clinks off the far post. Argh.

11:39: Dupuis winds up and cranks a slapper from the top of the slot wide to the right of the cage.

11:21: The Rosehill minor is killed. The Penguins are now 0 for 10 without Letang on the power play.

9:33: The great Joe Vitale spins off a check from Phaneuf behind the Toronto net, emerges to the right of the cage, turns and snaps off a wrister which Gustavsson holds out.

7:58: Malkin winds up and cranks a one-timer from the right point which buzzes the tower

7:22: Kunitz takes a pass in the right circle and rips a wrister on net. Gustavsson kicks it out.

5:51: Rosehill goes to the box again. This time for hitting Sullivan from behind at the left point of the Penguins' zone. That's charging. Kind of a ticky tack call. Malkin, Neal, Kunitz, Sullivan and Niskanen take the ice.

4:45: Tyler Bozak pushes the puck up the right wing into the Penguins' zone. Neal challenges him and hacks the stick out of his hands. That's two minutes. Four on four for 55 seconds. The Penguins are now 0 for 11 on the power play since Letang left the lineup.

3:51: The Rosehill minor expires. The Maple Leafs will have 1:05 of power play time.

3:16: Clarke MacArthur circles around in the left circle and snaps off a wrister. Michalek goes stick on puck and blocks it wide.

2:45: The Neal minor expires. Solid effort by the Penguins.

2:09: Garbovski challenges Lovejoy one-on-one on the left wing. Lovejoy holds his ground and knocks the puck away with a stick on puck.

2:10: Off a brutal turnover by Neal, Grabovski snaps off a wrister from the left circle wide on the near side.

1:04:  Malkin battles for a puck in the right wing corner and glances his stick off the helmet of Phaneuf. Phaneuf jerks his head back. Michalek, Orpik, Staal and Adams take the ice. take the ice. Rough time to take a penalty.

0:34: Liles tries to carry the puck into the offensive zone but Staal strips him of the puck. Adams whacks it down ice.

0:00: Late in the period, Cooke and Liles battle for a puck behind the Toronto net. Cooke hits Liles. Liles gets his arms up and ends up clipping Cooke in the mouth. Cooke falls in a heap with a bloody mouth. That's a "four-minuter." End of period. Maple Leafs 0, Penguins 0.

FIRST INTERMISSION

-That was a pretty dominant period in all all phases of the game except the scoreboard. The Penguins just couldn't bury one. The Maple Leafs dodged a big one tha tperiod.

-The power play continues to struggle without Letang.

-Thiessen must wonder if he's ever going to gt challenged at this level. He was barely challenged last week against Columbus and the Maple Leafs barely put any pucks on him in the first 20 minutes tonight.

-The Penguins dominate shots, 11-3.

-Sullivan and Malkin each lead the game with two.

-Phaneuf leads the game with 10:13 of ice time.

-Malkin leads the Penguins with 8:40.

-Faceoffs are even, 9-9 (50 percent).

-Bozak and Staal are each 4 for 7 (57 percent).

-No one has more than one blocked shot.

THIRD PERIOD

20:00: We'll have 56 seconds of four on four play on fresh ice.

19:48: So much for any Penguins' power play. Battling for a puck in the right wing corner, Staal trips up Kessel in the left wing corner. Four on three power play for the Maple Leafs.

19:30: Phaneuf takes a pass at the top of the slot and booms a one-timer. Thiessen eats it up.

19:07: Kessel snaps off  awrister from the right circle. Thiesen fight it off.

19:00: Phaneuf booms a one-timer from the top of the slot. Thiessen makes the save above his crease then BLAM! He's run over by Bozak. Gardner settles the puck in the right circle and slides a calm pass to Kessel on the back door. Kessel scores the easiest goal of his life. Did Orpik give Bozak a shove there to nullify any potential goaltending interference call? Gardiner and Bozak get assists. Fans boo their heads off. Maple Leafs 1-0.

17:20: Malkin taps a pass to Niskanen at the top of the slot. Niskanen chops a one-timer off the mark.

17:03: Malkin chops a one-timer from the left circle. Gunnarsson gets a piece of it to block it.

16:46: Niskanen snaps off a wrister from the left point wide to the far side

16:35: Staal swats a wrister from the slot Phaneuf gets a piece of it and sends it wide.

16:00: The second of Lile's minors expire. The Penguins are now 0 for 12 on the power play without Letang.

14:44: Off a drop pass from Adams, Asham whips a wriste from the right circle. Gustavsson fights it off.

14:09: Neal whips a heavy wrister from the right wing high over the cage.

12:24: Another Toronto goal. MacArthur slides a soft pass from the slot to Grabovski above the right circle. Grabovski grips and rips a  wrister which glances off Gunnarsson and beats Thiesseon on the far side over his right shoulder. A nice dirty goal there. MacArthurs now has six points against the Penguins in four games this season. He gets an assist along with Grabovski. Maple Leafs 2-0.

12:14: A wrister by Staal in the slot is eaten up by Gustavsson.

11:42: Cooke plays a puck off the left wing boards of the neutral zone and chips it up ice. xxx tries to engage him physcially but Cooke spins and sends him to the ice with a nice shoulder check.

10:35: Another dirty goal. Niskanen takes a pass at the right point, controls the puck and flings a wrister towards the cage. It finds its way through a maze of legs in front of the cage and glances off the backhand of Dupuis station right in front of the blue paint. It re-directs by the left leg of Gustavsson and hits twine. A great goal. It's Dupuis' 16th goal of the season. Niskanen and Staal get assists. The "Woo-Hoo!" song is played. Maple Leafs 2-1.

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9:20: Niskanen winds up and chops a slapper from the right point. It hits a body in front.

8:18: Off a turnove by Martin behind his net, Rosehill chips a backhander on net form the left circle, Thiessen gobbles it up. Martin owes Thissen a beer. With a stoppage and a confirmation of Dupuis' goal by the scorekeepers, the "Super Duper" clip from "Anchorman is played:

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7:10: Neal completely dumps Gunnarsson with a hit into the right wing boards of the Toronto zone.

6:27: Malkin sneaks behind the Toronto net, emerges to the left of it and slides a forehand shot through the crease wide of the cage.

6:18: Grabovski tries to push the puck up the left wing and is dumped to the ice by Staal.

6:10: Dupuis has two chances from the slot denied.

6:00: A wrister by Dupuis is blocked fin the left circle by Mike Komisarek.

5:34: Dupuis races after a loose puck in the left circle and is hammered to the ice by Komisarek. Oof.

4:56: Grabovski corrals a puck behind the net, slides to the left circle and distributes a pass to MacArthur in the slot. MacArthur lifts a wrister which Thiessen gloves.

4:50: Off the ensuing faceoff, Gunnarsson chops a slapper form the left half wall. Thiessen eats it up.

4:13: Kunitz tries to tee up Kulemin in the neutral zone with a hit but misses and catches the boards between the benches.

4:10: Attendance is announced at 18,539. It is the team's 242nd consecutive sellout.

4:01: Dupuis races up the right wing, pulls up and deals a pass to Staal moving up in the right circle. Staal taps the feed wide to the far side.

1:20: Neal might not be scoring, but he sure is hitting. Gunnarsson controls a puck behind the Toronto net. He chips it around the boards and BOOM! Neal just demolishes him. Ouch.

1:10:  Grabovski has a chance in the slot but loses the puck as he attempts a shot thanks to a clutch stick on puck by Strait. Huge play.

0:00: End of period. Maple Leafs 2, Penguins 1.

SECOND INTERMISSION

-The second period just illustrated how much of an opportunity the Penguins missed in the first. They dominated that first 20 minutes but couldn't crack the net.

-News flash. The Penguins have some issues on the power play without Letang.

-Thiessen has been sharp. The two goals were not his fault. First, he gets blasted by Bozak and completely wiped out on the first goal. Then, who can stop a fluke re-direction on the second goal.

-Neal hasn't scored since signing his contract extension. Hmm...

-The Penguins are dominating shots, 21-13.

-Sullivan and Kessel each lead the game with three.

-Phaneuf leads the game with 19:10 of ice time.

-Malkin leads the game with 16:57 of ice time.

-Faceoffs are even, 17-17 (50 percent).

-Bozak is 8 for 14 (57 percent).

-Staal is 6 for 11 (55 percent).

-Gunnarsson leads the game with three blocked shots.

-Niskanen, Michalek and Orpik each lead the game with two blocked shots.

-Toronto's Mike Brown and Cody Francos have left the game due to injuries and will not return.

THIRD PERIOD

19:22: A "Go Leafs Go!" chant is drowned out by a "LET'S GO PENS!" chant.

18:26: Tie game. Dupuis gains the offensive zone on the right wing and backhand a pass to Orpik on the left point. Orpik slips and falls but still manages to chips a wrister toward the slot. The knucks puck hits off the forehand of Staal and deflects by the glove hand of Gustavsson. Another dirty goal. Orpik and Dupuis get assists. The "Woo-Hoo!" song is played. Maple Leafs, 2, Penguins 2.

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17:26: Martin chops a slapper from the left point. Gustavsson kicks it out.

16:51: Frattin races up the right wing and snaps off a wrister from the right circle wide of the cage.

15:50: Nothing dirty about that goal. Lovejoy pushes the puck up the right wing and leave aa drop pas for Sullivan at the right point. Sullivan sneaks a pass/wrister towards the cage. Dupuis drives to the cage from the left circle, settles the puck and sneaks it under Gustavsson's right leg. It's Dupuis' second of the game and 17th of the season. Sullivan and Lovejoy get assists. The "Woo-Hoo!" song and the "Super Duper" clip are played. Penguins 3-2.

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13:41: Off a turnover by the Maple Leafs in the neutral zone, Staal steals a puck, coasts in on the right wing and whips a wrister from the left circle right into the chest of Gustavsson. Dupuis follows up on the rebound but no dice.

11:02: Frattin coasts into the offensive zone on the right wing and whips a wrister towards the cage. Orpik blocks it wide with the stick.

8:28: Off a steal in the defensive zone, Gardiner flings a wrister from the left point. Thiessen eats it up as Ashton crashes into the cage behind him dislodging it.

8:13: Gunnarsson keeps getting beat up. He fumbles a puck in the right wing corner of his own zone and is plastered into the boards by Tyler Kennedy.

7:21: Martin takes a pass from Malkin at the left point and chops a one-time. Gustavsson gloves it. Neal and Phaneuf exchange shoves after the whistle.

6:55: Uh oh. Neal is called for holding the stick of Gunnarsson in the right wing corner of Toronto's zone. That's two minutes. Staal, the great joe Vitale, Orpik and Michalek take the ice. This is a big two minutes.

6:32: Big save. Bozak controls the puck to the left of the net and deals a little pass to Liles in the slot. Liles lifts a wrister on nte. Thiessen kicks it out.

6:01: WOW!!!!! Phaneuf snaps off a pass from the right circle to Kessel in the left circle. Kessel has a wide open net but Thiesen is able to slide to his right and kicks out the wrister of Kessel with his right leg. Bozak follows up ont he rebound int eh slot but his shot ends up hitting the backside of Connolly who takes a tumble in the crease.

5:28: A one-timer by Phaneuf is calmly gloved by Thiessen.

5:18: Thiessen is tuned in right now. Gunarsson lifts a wrister from the left circle. Thiessen eats it up.

4:55: The Penguins kill off the Neal minor. That was clutch.

3:32: Orpik pretty much mugs Kulemin on the right wing pof the Penguins' zone and knocks him off the puck. No call.

3:07: Bozak flings a wrister from the left circle wide on the near side.

2:27: Grabovski snaps off a wrister from the left circle. Thiessen kicks it out with a "clunk."

1:34: Kunitz races up the left wing boards with the puck and seems to have a step on Gardiner but Gardiner strips him of the puck with a nice stick on puck.

0:38: The Maple Leafs triy to pull Gustavsson but go offsides. They call a timeout to get organized. The keep Gustavsson pulled.

0:20: Staal tracks down a loose puck in the right circle and chops it at the cage. It hits a body in front.

0:10: Connolly flings a wrister from the left wing off the mark.

0:03: Kessel has a chance above the blue paint but Malkin knocks his stick off the puck with a nice back check.

0:00: End of game. The "Woo-Hoo!" song is played. Mike Lange informs us of Elvis' whereabouts. Penguins 3, Maple Leafs 2.

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POSTGAME

-They didn't rely on the regular cast of characters for this win. The top line was bottled up. The top defenseman is injured. And the top goaltender took the night off. But the Penguins got a lot of secondary contributions to scrape out this win tonight.

-What a game by Brad Thiessen. He faced a little early adversity with a 2-0 deficit which really wasn't his fault. He didn't get rattled. He played a safe game and put his team in a position to take a lead. And when the Maple Leafs had some prime scoring chances on a late power play and Thiessen made some clutch saves. He took a huge step towards being a regular NHL goaltender tonight.

-What a game by the second line of Pascal Dupuis, Jordan Staal and Steve Sullivan. They carried this team in more ways than one with the first line being contained. They accounted for all the offense and they were so strong five on five defensively.

-Staal was a beast on defense in all situations. He just imposed himself physically on a tired group of Maple Leafs skaters and made life miserable for anyone who challenged him.

-What do you say about Pascal Dupuis? He's this close to being a 20-goal scorer this season and he hasn't even played that much with Sidney Crosby this season. He has a hot start offensively to the season and leveled off a bit. But he has really put together a strong campaign.

-On the blue line, the Penguins were hardly perfect. Paul Martin's game regressed a tad with a few turnovers in his own zone. And Kris Letang's absence continues to be glaring. But they did enough to make life tough for the Toronto forwards.

-Brian Strait continues to look impressive. He plays a steady but hardly spectacular game which won't get a lot of attention. He's always positionally sound in his own zone and he really likes to use that stick on puck. You have to wonder where he might be if he had not suffered that arm injury early int he season.

-The power play is just awful right now. They barely present a challenge at the moment. The just can't replace what Letang offers on that unit.

-The penalty kill hasn't suffered without Letang. They posted another perfect effort tonight going 5 for 5.

-The first line of Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal hasn't exactly lit things up as of late. In fact, Neal has not scored in eight games since signing his new contract.

-The Maple Leafs looked like a worn out team. They had a tough loss to a physical Bruins team last night and were on the road on back to back nights. They had a bad start, got a few breaks in the second and wore out in the third.

-Losing forward Mike Brown and defenseman Cody Franson to injuries didn't help.

-Jonas Gustavsson was solid for the most part. He couldn't really do much on the first two goals off re-directions. But the third one by Dupuis probably should have been a save.

-Clarke MacArthur continues to kill the Penguins. He finishes the season series with six points in four goal against the Penguins this season.

-The Penguins led in shots, 33-24.

-Phil Kessel led the game with six shots.

-Dupuis and Staal each led the game with four.

-Phaneuf led the game with 29:20 of ice time.

-Malkin led the Penguins with 23:56.

-The Penguins had a 32-27 lead in faceoffs (54 percent).

-Staal dominated going 13 for 18 (72 percent).

-Tim Connolly was 5 for 9 (56 percent).

-Carl Gunnarsson led the game with four blocked shots.

-Zbynek Michalek and Brooks Orpik each led the Penguins with three.

-The Penguins now have 1,496 wins in franchise history. Four more until 1,500.

-Dupuis (155 points) passed up Bob "Battleship" Kelly (154) for 51st place on the franchise's all-time scoring list.

-Game summary.

-Event summary.

-Highlights:

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