-We have a question for you:
-We'd say so. Greetings on an overcast, bitterly cold day in Pittsburgh. Naturally, it's a great day for hockey.
-Dan Bylsma was kind of wishy-washy today in evaluating Simon Despres after today's morning skate. It'll be interesting if he keeps him in the lineup tonight or goes with Robert Bortuzzo or Ben Lovejoy.
-It will also be interesting to see how Bylsma takes advantage of being the home team for the first time this season and the benefit of having the last change before a faceoff. For years, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal created match-up problems for opponents. We expect the same with Crosby, Malkin and now Brandon Sutter.
-Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner, who had a nice rookie campaign last season, is questionable for tonight. If he's out, those match-ups get tougher for the Maple Leafs.
-Speaking of Crosby, Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul had an interesting take this morning when comparing him and Malkin:
Is Crosby still the best player in the league?
"To me he’s the best player in the league. Malkin’s not far behind. It’s definitely creates match-up problems when you come in here. Everyone has to take pride in their match-up. We’re not going to completely stop those guys all night but you have to limit the damage they’re going to do."
-The Maple L eafs have a ton of speed, primarily on the wings. Can the Penguins' defense keep up with them after handling two slower opponents in Philadelphia and New York?
Three of the Penguins' nine goals this season have been scored on defense, including an empty netter by Kris Letang. Getting offense from the blue line is such a luxury in this league anymore.
-A few sights out and about. The barn:
-Some sights around the barn. Fans walking in from Center Avenue:
-The Hart Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award and the Art Ross Trophy are on display:
-Tonight's IceTime is team-centric:
-The Maple Leafs have at least one Dion Phaneuf fan here:
-Ditto Wendel Clark:
-Former Penguin/Maple Leaf Gary Roberts:
-Another former Penguin/Maple Leaf, Steve Sullivan:
-Lots of Mario Lemieux all-star love:
-Some Mario Lemieux Team Canada love too:
-A loyal Paul Martin fan:
-The couple that recognizes crafty Czech playmakers like Martin Straka stays together:
-Jersey Foul of the Night: Alex Ovechkin Capitals with a Penguins touque?
-Jersey of the Night: Gilles Meloche Cleveland Barons:
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scatches are Robert Bortuzzo, Dustin Jeffrey and Ben Lovejoy.
-The Maple Leafs' starters are Tyler Bozak, Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, Michael Kostka, Dion Phaneuf and James Reimer.
-Their scratches are Cody Franson, Mark Fraser and David Steckel.
-Who else but Jeff Jimerson would blow the roof off this dump?
19:15: Dupuis gets some space on the right wing and rips a wrister on net. Riemer knocks it down and covers.
18:28: Fleury gets his first test of the night. Mikhail Grabovski blows by Niskanen and Letang and approaches the net. From the left circle, he deals a pass to Nikolai Kulemin in the right circle. The puck rolls a bit on Kulemin but he still swats it on net. Fleury slide to his left and eats it up. If that pass is a little cleaner, that might be a goal.
16:31: Kessel hustles up the left wing into the offensive zone. Martin challenges a bit. Kessel sort of uses him a screen and puts a heavy wrister on net. Fleury knocks it dead and covers.
15:10: Malkin is working with Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy.
14:03: At the Penguins' blue line, Deryk Engelland and Colton Orr drop the gloves. The's two fought two years ago so this is an old score. At first, it's rock-em, sock-em robots. They're just pumping right hands into each other. After an inital flurry of, both players reposition themselves a bit then start pumping rights again. After another rest period, they exchange a few rights. Engelland has one bit right which connects. Eventually, the two tire out and appear to agree to a draw. What a bout. Orr did much better than his 2010 fight against Engelland:
13:01: Crosby and Dupuis each get denied in tight by Reimer.
12:15: Cooke puts a wrister on net from the slot with John-Michael Liles challening. Reimer steers it away.
11:06: After Brooks Orpik loses the puck on the right corner boards, The Maple Leafs appear to have the makings of a two-on-one. But before it materializes, Martin goes stick on puck and steals the puck off Lupul and gets it out of danger.
9:46: Mike Komisarek pumps a slapper from the right point wide, presumably attempting to create a riccohet to the crease for a teammate to clean up. Fleury snuffs it out.
9:39: The Penguins chip a puck behind the Toronto net. Komisarek races back to retrieve it with Kunitz in pursuit. Komisarek appears to get to it first but not before Kunitz slams him from the side into the end board. Komisarek slams into the boards hard front-first. An official puts his hand up and calls Kunitz for boarding. That was a tough call. Brandon Sutter, Orpik, Martin and Cooke take the ice.
8:55: Engelland and Orr return to their benches as their teammates clap their sticks on the boards in appreciation. Engelland appears to be receiving some medical attention to his right cheek.
7:58: Dupuis steals the puck and chips it down ice for a clear. That allows a line change. Crosby jumps on the ice for the final 22 seconds of the penalty.
7:39: The Kunitz minor is killed. The Penguins didn't allow much to the Maple Leafs that two minutes.
7:18: Kessel lifts a wrister from the right circle. Fleury fights it off with his chest.
6:36: Eric Tangradi controls the puck ont he left wing and chips it to the crease hoping to connets with a streaking Malking Leo Komarov appears to get a piece of it.
4:45: On a delayed penalty, Letang collects the puck at the right point, wheels backwards towards the slot and chucks it towards the cage. It appears to his a stick or two and deflects just wide. Carl Gunnarsson is sent off for interference against the great Joe Vitale. Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Neal and Letang take the ice.
3:48: Crosby fumbles the puck in the right circe. Kulemin recover sit and chips it down ice. The Maple Leafs have cleared the puck three times already this power play.
2:51: Martin cranks a slapper from the left point. Reimer fights it off. Sutter is in front and chops a backhander on net. Reimer denies that.
2:45: The Gunnarsson minor is killed. Not much going on there for the Penguins.
2:08: Vitale chips and chases a puck into the left wing corner. Komisarek knocks him down from behind itno the boards. That's two minutes for cross checking. The great Joe Vitale has drawn two penalties arleady tonight. Malkin, Kunitz, Crosby, Letang and Neal take the ice.
1:09: The MVP scores. etang controsl the puck at the left point and deal sit to Crosby on the righ tahf wall. Crosby cirls around and deals it to Malkin down loa along the goal line. Malkin simply whips it into the crease and it sneaks between Reimer's five hole. Crosby and Letang get assists. The "Malkamania" video and the "Hey Song" are played. Penguins 1-0.
0:52: Sutter appears to take a chunk out of Kessel at the Maple Leafs blue line. Play is halted and a few of the Maple Leafs go after Sutter. Officials hold everyone at bay and nothing comes of it.
0:36: James van Riemsdyk chucks a wrister on net from the right wall. It hits a bod in front and deflects on net. Fleury fights it off and covers the rebound as Grbovksiy snoops around.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Maple Leafs 0.
-That was a pretty entertaining, fast-paced, physical period of hockey. Lots of offensive chances a little bit of the rough stuff.
-Both goaltenders were strong for the most part. Fleury had to turn a way some tough offensive chances. And Reimer only really made one mistake after facing a good amount of shots.
-Joe Vitale is playing like it's Game 7 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal. And frankly, he probably has to in order to keep his job.
-The Penguins' first power play was pretty rotten while the second one was a lot sharper.
-Their penalty kill shut down the Maple Leafs totally on their lone power-play chance.
-The Penguins ahve a 12-7 lead in shots.
-Crosby and Kessel each lead the game with two.
-Letang lead the game with 9:10 of ice time.
-Martin is second with 8:48.
-Dion Phaneuf leads the Maple Leafs with 7:47.
-The Maple Leafs have a 13-8 lead in faceoffs (62 percent).
-Grabovski is 4 for 4 (100 percent).
-The great Joe Vitale is 1 for 2 (50 percent).
-No one has more than one blocked shot.
19:22: The Maple Leafs get an early chance this period to tied the game as Dupuis is called for hooking van Riemsdyk. Cooke, Sutter, Orpik and Martin take the ice.
18:24: Tanner Glass dumps Komarov in front of the Maple Leafs' bench hard.
17:47: Crosby is on the ice for the final 25 seconds of the power play.
17:22: The Penguins kill off the power play. The Maple Leafs did not get a shot on net.
16:51: The Maple Leafs strike. And it's a Penguin killer who does it. Kadri pushes the puck up the right wing, cuts inside a stick check by Despres in the right circle and deals a shot/pass to the slot. Clarke MacArthur is in the slot and and re-directs the puck with his forehand by Fleury. MacArthur has points in seven consecutive games against the Penguins. Kadri and Kulemin get assists. Maple Leafs 1, Penguins 1.
15:13: Crosby deals a backhanded pass to Malkin in the slot. Malkin chops it wide.
15:09: Malkin has a chance in right with a defender all over him but can't lift a backander of a stretched out Reimer.
14:04: On a two-on-one rush into the offensive zone, Sutter has a chance at an open net but instead forces a bad pass to Cooke. The defender breaks up the play. He has to shoot that.
13:25: Off a long stretch pass by Letang up the right wall, Vitale hustles into the offensive zone and deals a pass to Glass into the slot. Glass put a shot wide to the right of the cage.
13:12: Kulemin races up the right wing, gets a step on Letang and deals a backhanded pass to the slot. Van Riemsdyk muscles by Adams and taps the backhander on net. Fleury make the inital save but van Riemsdyk is able to keep with the play and cleans up his rebound. A nice dirty goal. Kulemin and Grabovski each get assists. It's te the first deficit of the season for the Penguins. Maple Leafs 2-1.
12:43: And that deficit doesn't last long. After Kostksa has a pass blocked by Crosby at the right point, Dupuis cleans up the rebound and springs it up ice to Crosby who is already off to the races. With Phaneuf chasing, Crosby races in in on net and attacks Reimer. He snaps off a wrister which clunks through Reimer's five hole. It's Crosby's first goal of the season and it ties the game. Dupuis gets the only assist. The "Hey Song" is played. Maple Leafs 2, Penguins 2.
11:15: Engelland is nabbed for tripping Kadri on the right wing fall of the Penguins zone. Orpik, Martin, Sutter and Adams take the ice.
10:49: After Adams steals the puck off Phaneuf in the right wing corner of the Toronto zone with some simple hard work, he deals a backhanded pass to Sutter who puts a one-timer on net. Reimer turns it away.
10:31: Phaneuf fires a slapper from the left point on net. Fleury eats it up easily.
10:05: Tough spot her for the Penguins as Cooke is called for slashing Kadri. The Maple Leafs will have a five-on-three for 50 seconds. Oprik, Adams and Sutter take the ice.
9:35: After a few passes, Phaneuf booms a one-timer from above the right circe wide to the far side.
9:18: Kessel fires a wrister from above the left circle. Fleury batle sit away with hs chest.
9:15: The Engelland minor is killed. The Penguins still have 1:10 of a five-on-four to kill.
8:58: Attendance is announced as 18,641. It is the 255 consecutive sell-out and largest hockey crowd ever at Consol Energy Center.
8:12: Another five-on-three for the Penguins, albeit a brief one. Letang is called for boarding MacArthur. The Maple Leafs will have a two-man advantage for seven seconds.
8:05: Cooke returns to the ice. The Penguins will have to kill 1:53 of a one-man advantage.
7:28: Bozak picks up a loose puck ot the left of the Penguins cage, drag it towards the slot and lifts a wrister on net. Fleury eats it up.
6:46: From the left wing corner of his own zone, Orpik flings a backhanded clear down ice.
6:13: Dupuis booms a clear down ice from the right wing circle of his own zone and kills the rest of the Letang minor. Big-time effort by the Penguins.
5:45: Kunitz enters the zone down the slot, slows down and deals to Niskanen gliding up the right wing. Niskanen puts a wrister on net. Reimer gloves it.
5:26: After a bad turnover by Malkin in his one zone, the Leafs take immediate advantage. From the left wing wall of his own zone, Malkin deals a just atrocious pass to Van Riemsdyk above the left circle. van Riemsdyk grips and rips a wrister to the far side which toasts Fleury's glove hand. Just brutal by Malkin. The goal is unassisted but Malkin could make a case for one. Maple Leafs 3-2.
4:03: The Penguins get a chance to tie it up. Kostka is nabbe for holding Dupuis' sitck. Malkin, Letang, Kunitz, Crosby and Neal take the ice.
3:10: Neal takes a pass from Letang on the left wing and pumps a wrister on net from the left circle. Reimer traps it against his chest.
2:22: Kulumen steals the puck off Malkin at the right point and hustles it up ice. As he enters the offensive zone, He winds up and fires a slapper. Neal chases him down reaches in with his stick deflecting the puck out of play.
2:03: The Maple Leafs kill Kostka's penalty. Nothing doing there for the Penguins.
0:00: End of period. Maple Leafs 3, Penguins 2.
-What a sloppy period for the Penguins. They took some lazy penalties and just looked kind of lacadasical in general. This was maybe their worst 20 minutes of the season.
-The penalty kill wasn't sloppy. It was outstanding. If not for the efforts of the penalty killers, this is a bigger deficit.
-Brandon Sutter seems to be already infected with the "pass-first" bug this team seems to permanently have. He has to take a shot instead of forcing a pass to Cooke mid-way through the period.
-Officials seems to be calling a tight but somewhat inconsistent game.
-Hard to blame Fleury for the first two goals. The first was a perfect deflection while the second came with the world crashing his crease. He could have made a save on third goal, but that came off a brutal turnover.
-The Penguins have a 23-16 lead in shots.
-Malkin and Kessel each lead the game with four shots.
-Letang lead the game with 17:42 of ice time.
-Martin is right behind him with 17:24.
-Phaneuf leads the Maple Leafs with 16:38.
-The Penguins have a 22-21 edge in faceoffs (51 percent).
-Grabovski is 8 for 11 (73 percent).
-Crosby is 11 for 17 (65 percent).
-Orpik leads the game with three blocked shots.
-Phaneuf and Liles each lead the Maple Leafs with two.
-Here are the gold t-shirts being given out tonight:
-Lupul will miss the rest of the game due to an upper-body injury.
18:31: Dupuis attempts a wraparound from the right oleft of the cage. The puck slides around as Kunit chagres in. Reimers' right pad holds it out. . Crosby crashes in. A car wreck ensues in the blue pain. Officials halt play. Kostka is called for cross checking Kunitz. Crosby, Makin, Neal, Letang and Kunitz take the ice.
17:05: Martin is on the second power play and leasd a rush in deep on the righ twing.
17:01: Malkin feeds a pass from the right circle to niskanen at the left point. Niskanen cracks a one-timer wide on the near side.
16:31: The Kostka minor is killed. Very little going on there for the Penguins.
15:42: Of a nice, subtle feed by Kadri on the right wing, MacArthur taps a shot on net. Fleury fights it off. Tough save.
14:42: The Penguins defense gets sloppy in their zone zone and the Leafs' strike. Kulemin collects a loose puck off the left wing boards, surveys the ofenive zone and deals a pass to Kostka on the right wing. From the right cice, Kostka cranks a shot by Fleury's glove hand. Fleury had no prayer on that. The Penguins gave the Maple Leafs 10 acres of ice to work with on that play. It's Kostka' s first goal of his career. Kulemin and van Riemsdyk get assists. Maple Leafs 4-2.
12:23: Kunitz booms a one-timer from the top of the slot over the cage.
11:26: Niskanen rips a wrister from the right point. It hits a body or two in front.
10:22: The Penguins are mixing up lines heavily here. Malkin is on with Sutter and Glass.
9:25: From the right point, Crosby spins an delas a pass to xx on the left point. It hits something and deflects wide.
8:57: The Penguins get a big chance here as van Riemsdyk is called for hoooking up Neal in the neutral zone. This is almost do or die for the Penguins, Kunitz, Malkin, Crosby, Neal and Letang take the ice.
8:41: A slapper by Neal at the top of the slot hits something and deflects wide.
8:26: Letang chops a onet-imer from the left circle on net. Reimer fight sit off.
8:09: After a faceoff win, Komisarek booms a clearing attempt around the boards behind his own net. Kunitz barges in and hits him from the side. Komisarek crashes into the boards head first on hsi side. Officials call Kunitz for boarding. That's a tough call. We'll have four on four for 1:14.
6:57: The van Riemsdyk minor is killed. The Maple Leafs will have a power play for 46 seconds.
6:43: Phaneu circles around the offensive zone and ishe a little feed from the left wing corner ot the crease. It ratle around a bit befor Fleury can cover.
6:36: Phaneuf booms a slapper from the left point. Fleury punches it away.
6:09: Kunitz returns to the ice.
5:07: Neal snaps off a one-timer from the right wing corner. Reimer makes the save. The rebound clunks a roun with Crosby and Malkin hovering around but no one can get a stick on it.
3:11: The Penguins are going with Neal, Malkin, Crosby on one line and Sutter, Dupuis, Kunitz on the other.
2:37: Off a feed by a Crosby ccle in the left wing corner, Neal pumps a one-timer on net. Reimer fights it off.
2:03: As Fleury leaves the net, Martin snaps of a wrister from the right point. It hits something and deflects wide to the far side.
1:51: The Penguins are called for too many men on the ice. Crosby appears to jaw a little too mcuhat the oficials and gets an unspormalike conduct minor. Kunitz will serve the bench minor. Fleury returns to his cage. Adams, Orpik and Sutter take the ice for the five on three.
1:38: Kessel take a pass in the left circle and does a Stamkos-esque lean and fires a one-timer on net. Fleury slides ot his right and makes the save.
1:01: MacArthur contorls the puck to the left of the net, slides to the right cirlce an fires a wriste ron net. Fleury makes the save. The rebound kicks otu to the slot. Bozak cleans it up nd punches it by Fleury. MacArthur and Kostka get assists. Maple Leafs 5-2.
0:00: End of game. Maple Leafs 5, Penguins 2.
-What a sloppy, sloppy game by the Penguins. This was almost reminiscent of what happened to them in the postseason. They got too loose in their own zone and turned the puck over like it was infected with cooties. The Maple Leafs took full advantage of those turnovers and pounded the Penguins.
-This in some ways almost a continuation of what happened in the third period against the Ranger Sunday. The Penguins got a little too casual with a big lead in that game and gave the Rangers some offensive chances. They seemed to have a little bit of urgency in the first period but didn't really maintain it past the first intermission.
-The time and space the Penguins allowed the Maple Leafs to work with in the defensive zone was surprising. After really clamping down against Claude Giroux and Rick Nash this past weekend, the Penguins allowed the likes of Clarke MacArthur, Nikolai Kulemin and James van Riemsdyk to rip through their zone.
-Penalties killed the Penguins. Officials seemed to call things tight much to the dismay of the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby each received unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for jawing at the officials. Dan Bylsma appeared to be speaking with an NHL off-ice official near the Penguins' dressing room after the game as well.
-The Eric Tangradi experiment was scrapped early tonight. He only had three shifts in the final three periods. That forced the Penguins to mix and match their bottom three lines much of the night.
-The Penguins power-play went 1 for 5 but could have offered another goal.
-The Matt Cooke-Brandon Sutter-Tyler Kennedy trio was awfully quiet tonight. In fact, their most notable moment was when Sutter forced a bad pass to Cooke on a two-on-one in the second period which could have changed the game.
-Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer, a former teammate of Sutter in Red Deer of the WHL, joked about Sutter, "Maybe he was too intimidated to shoot on me."
-On the marathon fight between Deryk Engelland and Colton Orr, Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle joked, "That was one you could have one or two drinks, it was so long."
-Clarke MacArthur just kills the Penguins. He has scored in seven consecutive games against the Penguins. During that span, he has 11 points (six goals, five assists).
-Evgeni Malkin's turnover which led to van Riemsdyk's goal was a killer.
-Hard to blame Marc-Andre Fleury on this. His defense was way too loose and his teammates turned the puck over way too much.
-Reimer was very sharp. He faced quite a few quality scoring chances and was up to the task.
-The dispersal of minutes on the Penguins' blue line was lopsided once again.
-The Penguins' penalty kill was very good. If not for this unit, this could have been a lot worse.
-The Penguins led in shots, 30-24. Engelland and Simon Despres each got under nine minutes of ice time. That said, the amount of penalty kill time the Penguins had to contend with probably dictated that.
-Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul left the game in the second period due to a broken forearm he suffered after beign hit by a slap shot by teammate Dion Phaneuf.
-Crosby, Neal and Grabovski each led the game with five shots.
-Kris Letang led the game with 27:31 of ice time.
-Phaneuf led the Maple Leafs with 25:47.
-The Penguins had a 35-34 edge in faceoffs (51 percent).
-Crosby was 17 for 28 (61 percent).
-Tyler Bozak was 17 for 31 (55 percent).
-Brooks Orpik led the game with four blocked shots.
-John-Michael Liles led the Maple Leafs with three.