-The Penguins are getting the band back together with the first line. Pascal Dupuis is back with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz. Under perfect circumstances, Dupuis is not a first-liner. But last we checked, Patrick Kane or even Justin Williams aren't on the trading block. We not sure we understand the horror some folks treat the prospect of Dupuis being on this line, but the results have clearly been there, at least during regular season play, with Dupuis on Crosby's right wing.
-That change mean Evgeni Malkin's new linemates are Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. Hornqvist rushed out to a great start of the season on Crosby's right wing and meshed with him immediately. Can he do the same with Malkin?
-Malkin's numbers in five-on-five play weren't good at all. He simply did not have the same chemistry with Dupuis as Crosby clearly has. Over their careers with the Penguins, Dupuis and Malkin simply haven't meshed well. Courtesy of Adam Gretz of CBS, here's a look at Malkin's numbers with various linemates on the Penguins:
-Over Malkin's career, his numbers have lagged when he isn't playing with true top-six wingers. His MVP season of 2011-12 came with Kunitz and James Neal on his wings. His two 100-point seasons in the late 2000s came with Ryan Malone, Petr Sykora and Ruslan Fedotenko on his wings.
(Feel free to debate if Fedotenko ever was a legit top-six winger.)
-In contrast, Malkin has struggle with the likes of Eric Tangradi, Mike Comrie, Alexei Ponikarovsky and an out of place Jarome Iginla on his wings.
-There's something to be said for a player of Malkin's ilk simply making anyone he plays with better. At the same time, there's something to be said for giving him complimentary talent to work with.
-The third line appears to have Beau Bennett on the left wing with Brandon Sutter at center and Steve Downie at right wing. Mike Johnston's plan since training camp has been to use Bennett on a line with Sutter and they displayed a lot of chemistry in the preseason before Bennett was injured. But Bennett was used on the right wing, a position he clearly prefers. We're curious to see how this line will work with Bennett playing out of position.
-According to Root Sports, Blake Comeau is a game-time decision due to an illness. We wonder if his illness prompted Johnston to give Spaling a look at on the second line. Comeau isn't a second liner under ideal circumstances but at the same time, he hasn't been horrible on that line so far this season.
-With tonight being the Hockey Hall of Fame Game in recognition of this weekend's induction ceremonies, the Penguins will be wearing a commemorative patch:
-Kudos to Root Sports for showing the Hockey Hall of Fame pregame ceremonies.
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Kris Letang, Paul Martin and Thomas Greiss.
-Their scratches are Blake Comeau and Olli Maatta.
-The Maple Leafs' starters are Peter Holland, Leo Komarov, Mike Santorelli, Cody Franson, Dion Phaneuf and Jonathan Bernier.
-Their only scratch is Matt Frattin.
19:35: Off a backhanded feed by Crosby, Dupuis rips a heavy one-time from the right circle juuuust wide on the near side.
19:12: Bortuzzo chases down a puck on the right half wall and chucks it on net. Bernier snags it.
19:05: Bennett gets a chance off the ensuing faceoff in the right circle but can't get a clean shot off.
18:02: Off a feed from Malkin, Hornqvist booms a slapper from the right wing wide on the near side.
17:23: Dupuis backhands a shot from the right wing wide to the far side.
16;47: Zach Sill races up the left wing and chops a slapper well wide of the cage.
16:21: Morgan Rielly chops a shot from the left point. It deflects wide.
16:19: Racing for a puck on the Penguins' right half wall, Sill slams Stephane Robidas to the ice hard.
15;39: Off a feed by Bennett, Downie releases a weak wrister from the right circle. Bernier kicks it out of play.
15:05: A wrister by Hornqvist from the right circle is blocked by Jake Gardiner.
14:36: Hornqvist blasts a loose puck on the right half wall well wide of the cage.
14:33: Malkin corrals a rebound on the left half wall and whacks it on net. Bernier kicks it out.
13:56: Santorelli drives to the net off the left wing with the puck on his backhand. Greiss holds it out as there is a small scramble for the rebound. As play moves back up ice, Robert BOrtuzzo heads to the bench in discomfort. Athletic trainer Chris Stewart attends to him.
13:21: A wrister by Letang from the right point is blocked in front.
13:00: A wrister by Bennett from the right circle is wide to the far side.
12:49: A one-time by Robidas at the right point is high of the cage.
12:36: Reilly chucks a wrister from the left point. Griess eats it up. After a commercial break, Bortuzzo is back on the ice.
11:15: After Dupuis forces Franson into a turnover with a strong check in Toronto's left wing corner, Crosby sets up Kunitz for a one-timer in the slot. Kunitz's shot deflects out of play.
9:55: Ehrhoff chips a little wrister from the left wing on net. Bernier knocks it down and smothers.
9:34: Using Rielly as a screen, Bennett snaps off a wrister from the right circle. Bernier snags it.
9:22: A wrister by Spaling from the left circle is blocked.
9:09: The Maple Leafs get their first quality scoring chances as James van Riemsdyk races up the left wing and releases a heavy wrister which Greiss fights off.
8:20: A wrister by Santorelli from the right wing is blocked wide by the stick of Ehrhoff.
7:15: On a delayed penalty, David Clarkson has a chance to the left of the cage. Greiss kicks it out.
6:50: The Maple Leafs will get the game's first power play as Downie is called for hooking Nazem Kadri. Craig Adams, Marcel Goc, Letang and Paul Martin take the ice.
5:17: Gardiner snaps off a wrister from the right point. It deflects behind Greiss but somehow manages to stay out of the net. The Penguins clear the puck out danger. They dodged one there.
4:50: The Downie minor is killed. Outside of one quality chance, the Maple Leafs did little with that two minutes.
4:29: Off a feed from Downie, Spaling rips a shot from the left circle.
3:16: Letang corrals a puck on the right half wall and whacks it on net. Bernier fights it off.
3:07: A one-timer attempt by Crosby in the slot is fanned on and slides into the right wing corner.
2:58: Off a feed by Crosby, Dupuis tries to jam in a puck from the right of the crease. Bernier manages to hold it out somehow. Kuntiz crashes in and tries to Oklahoma Drill the puck into the cage. A scrum ensues. Nothing comes of it.
2:34: Sutter races up the right wing and is hacked in the hands by Dion Phaneuf. That's a slashing minor. Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Hornqvist and Letang take the ice.
2:09: A wrister by Malkin from the left circle is blocked by Polak.
1:03: Off an offensive zone turnover by Ehrhoff, Daniel Winnik pushes the puck up the left wing. He feeds a pass to Komarov in the slot. Komarov backhands it on net and Greiss kicks it out. Huge save.
0:33: As the Phaneuf minor expires, Letang chops a one-timer from above the left circle. Winnik blocks it.
0:00: End of period. Maple Leafs 0, Penguins 0.
-The Penguins controlled the first 13 minutes or so of that period. They had the puck in Toronto's zone most of the time and fired plenty of shots. Special teams kind of took over from that point and things leveled off a bit after that.
-The Dupuis-Crosby-Kunitz line was back at it. Those three just look like they're joined at the hip.
-Hornqvist had a few shot attempts but it would be a stretch to say he and Malkin had immediate chemistry.
-Bennett-Sutter-Downie even generated a few things. Bennett had a few shot attempts from the right wing.
-Ehrhoff-Bortuzzo looked a million times better than they did Tuesday against the Rangers.
-Greiss came up big with a couple of tough saves late.
-The Penguins have a 13-5 lead in shots on net.
-The Penguins have a 33-13 lead in attempted shots.
-Dupuis leads the game with three shots.
-No one else has more than one shot.
-Letang leads the Penguins with 8:36 of ice time.
-Gardiner leads the Maple Leafs with 8:19.
-Faceoffs are even, 12-12 (50 percent).
-Holland is 6 for 9 (67 percent).
-Goc is 3 for 3 (100 percent).
-Rielly leads the game with four blocked shots.
-None of the Penguins has more than one blocked shot.
19:48: Dupuis is slammed to the ice in the Maple Leafs' left circle by Phaneuf. He skates to the bench in some discomfort.
18:55: Malkin whips a wrister from deep on the left wing. Bernier fights it off.
18:24: Malkin gets his stick up on Kessel in the Toronto's slot and is called for hooking. Spaling, Sutter, Scuderi and Ehrhoff take the ice.
18:18: Sutter heads to the bench after taking a stick high near his face.
17:06: Kessel snaps off a wrister from the left wing which is blocked by by Martin
16:56: On a short-handed two-on-one, Goc rips a wrister from the left circle. Bernier fights it off.
16:48: In transition, Kessel rips a wrister from the high slot. Scuderi steps out of the way but deflects the puck out of play with his stick. What a block.
16:42: Gardiner chucks a wrister from the left point. Greiss eats it up despite a screen by van Riemsdyk.
16:27: As Malkin's minor expires, van Riemsdyk collects a deflected puck and has a wide open net to shoot at to the right of the cage. He rips a shot well wide of the net. Argh. He looks up in the air in disgust. He knows he had a goal.
15:39: Ehrhoff chops a shot from the left circle well wide of the cage.
15:30: Another penalty for the Penguins. Kunitz is called for holding van Riemsdyk in the defensive zone. van Riemsdyk gets away with a little embellishment. Sutter, Dupuis, Martin and Letang take the ice.
15:19: Phaneuf booms a one-timer from the right point. Greiss makes the save and denies Kadri as well as Clarkson on the rebounds.
14:48: Clarkson gets a chance in the left circle and rips a wrister. Greiss deflects it out of play.
14:35: A wrister by Kessel from the left wing is wide on the near side.
13:30: The Kunitz minor is killed. The Penguins limited the Maple Leafs pretty good during that two minutes.
12:30: A power play for the Penguins. Crosby drives to the net off the right wing and down the slot. As Santorelli hooks him, Crosby releases a wrister which Bernier smothers. Santorelli heads to the penalty box. Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Hornqvist and Letang take the ice.
11:22: Off some tic-tac-toe perimeter passing, Malkin booms a one-timer from the left circle. Bernier reads the play and kicks out the shot.
10:55: Letang air mails a slapper from the red line. Bernier kicks it out easily.
10:30: The Santorelli minor expires. The Penguins did little with that chance.
9:54: Despres rips a wrister from the left point. Bernier snags it despite traffic.
9:27: HUGE save. Kessel gets behind Martin off the left wing and attacks the net. He goes backhand but is denied by Greiss. That was another big save by Greiss.
7:58: A wrister by Martin fromt he left point is blocked by Phaneufl.
7:36: Using Dupuis as a screen, van Riemsdyk snaps off a tricky wrister from the left circle. Greiss knocks it dead and smothers.
6:46: Botuzzo thumps Clarkson with a hit in the Penguins' left wing corner.
6:05: Collecting a dump-in in the right wing corner, Hornqvist chops a quick shot on net. Bernier fights it off.
5:56: Scuderi lifts a wrister form the left point. It hits a body in front.
5:33: Despres launches a wrister from the right point. Bernier snags it.
5:15: Cody Franson snaps off a wrister from center point. Greiss eats it up.
4:53: Another penalty. Bortuzzo clobbered Kadri in the slot with a cross check. That's two minutes for roughing. Kadri is a little shaken up but makes his way to the bench. Goc, Adams, Letang and Martin take the ice.
3:22: Martin makes a sneaky steal off Kessel on the right half wall of the Penguins' zone and knocks the puck loose. Adams clears it down ice to get his team a change.
2:42: The Penguins strike first. After Bortuzzo's minor epxires, He drives the puck deep behind the cage. That leads to Sutter dealing a puck off the left half wall to Ehrhoff at the right point. Ehrhoff chops a one-timer at the cage. Dupuis is positioned above the blue paint and deflects it behind Bernier on the blocker side. What a deflection. Bortuzzo won't get an assist but he made a nice play to get that puck deep after his penalty had expired. Ehrhoff and Sutter get assists. Penguins 1-0.
1:52: HUGE save. After Malkin steals a puck off Roman Polack at the Maple Leafs' right point, he deals a pass to Kunitz in the slot. Kunitz deals it back to Malkin in the right circle. Malkin leans down and releases a wrister which Bernier snags. A replays show Malkin fanning a bit on the shot but that was still a difficult save for Bernier. Malkin looks up in aggravation.
1:30: Kessel releases a rising wrister off the right wing. Greiss knocks it dead and smothers.
1:23: Gardiner lifts a wrister from the left half wall. Greiss snags it.
0:48: Stealing a puck off Gardiner on Toronto's left wing wall, Sutter attacks the net. His wrister is fought off by Bernier. Goc has a chance on the rebound but can't get a clean shot off.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Maple Leafs 0.
-Special teams kind of dominated that period. It was really hard for either team to establish much five-on-five.
-The Maple Leafs did managed to control things with special teams. They put plenty of shots at the net.
-Greiss has flat out stolen a few goals tonight. He's been the Penguins' most important player.
-The Penguins have taken way too many penalties.
-The Penguins have 23-17 lead in shots on net.
-Dupuis and van Riemsdyk each lead the game with four shots.
-Letang leads the Penguins with 17:26 of ice time.
-Phaneuf leads the Maple Leafs with 15:10.
-The Maple Leafs have a 22-21 edge in faceoffs (51 percent).
-Bozak is 9 for 13 (64 percent).
-Crosby is 8 for 14 (57 percent).
-Rielly leads the game with five blocked shots.
-Martin and Scuderi each lead the Penguins with two blocked shots.
19:52: Off the opening faceoff, Kunitz whips a wrister from the left circle.
19:45: Chemistry. The Penguins' top line has it. Off the ensuing faceoff, Crosby blindly backhands a pass to Dupuis in the slot. Dupuis booms a one-timer which blows by the glove hand of Bernier. Bernier is stunned. Crosby and Bortuzzo get assists. Penguins 2-0.
19:18: A slapper by Letang from the right point is kicked out by Bernier.
18:42: A wrister by Clarkson from the right circle is wide to the far side.
17:31: A wrister by Kessel from the right circle is deflected out play by Martin's stick.
17:19: Holland chucks a wrister from the left half wall. Greiss eats it up.
17:12: Ex-Penguin Trevor Smith rips a heavy wrister from the left circle wide on the near side.
15:25: A wrister by HOrnqvist off the left wing is fought off by Bernier.
15:12: van Riemsdyk lifts a wrister from the high slot. Greiss fights it off.
14:48: Ehrhoff chucks a wrister from the left point on net as Sill crashes in. Bernier fights it off.
14:09: Off a feed from Bennett, Despres rips a wrister from the right circle wide to the far side.
13:28: The Maple Leafs get on the scoreboard. Crosby makes a strange cross-ice pass (or was it a clearing attempt) from his own left wing corner. It hits off the right wing boards where Franson tees it up as a one-timer. It drops like a breaking pitch and beats Greiss on the blocker side. What a poor turnover by Crosby. The goal is unassisted. Maple Leafs 2-1.
12:59: Crosby takes out some aggression by running over Gardiner in the Maple Leafs' left wing corner.
12:45: Off a steal, Letang chucks a wrister on net from the right half wall. Bernier eats it up.
12:13: After Kadri gains the offensive zone, Kessel rips a quick wrister from above the left circle. Greiss punches it away.
11:55: Battling for a puck in the Penguins' left circle, Kadri trips up Letang. That's two minutes for Kadri. Letang, Crosby, Kunitz, Malkin and Hornqvist take the ice. This is a big two minutes.
11:07: After an offensive zone turnover by Letang, Holland drives to the net off the right wing and puts a shot from the slot wide
10:55: Hornqvist tries to jam in a puck from the right of the cage. Bernier denies him as Polak clears out Hornqvist. We have to imagine Polak and Hornqvist have bumped heads before dating back to their days with the Blues and Predators respectively.
10:22: Off a drop pass from Sutter, Dupuis puts a one-timer on net from the slot. Bernier fends it off.
10:03: Short-handed, Polak booms a one-timer from the right point. It rises up and hits Sutter up high near the Penguins' cage. Sutter falls down in a heap. Play is halted as athletic trainer Chris Stewart rushes out to attend to him. Sutter holds a towel against his left eye and heads to the dressing room. Ouch.
9:55: The Kadri minor is killed. That was huge for the Maple Leafs.
9:29: off a cross ice feed from Bennett, Goc rips a wrister from the left wing. Bernier fights it off.
9:09: Kessel tries to jam in a forehand wraparound from the left of the cage. No dice.
9:02: Off a feed from Crosby, Scuderi lifts a wrister which Bernier eats up.
8:22: Another power play for the Maple Leafs. Dupuis slashed the stick out of Bozak's hands in the neutral zone. That's two minutes. This is a big chance for Toronto with Sutter unavailable. Adams, Goc, Martin and Letang take the ice.
7:45: Kunitz steps onto the ice with Spaling for some penalty killing duties.
6:53: Phaneuf directs a shot from the left circle juuuust wide to the far side.
6:34: Goc blocks a wrister by Franson from above the right circle.
6:25: A wrister by Kessel from the left circle is fought off by Greiss despite a great screen by van Riemsdyk.
6:22: Dupuis' minor expires. A huge effort by the Penguins.
5:08: A one-timer by Clarkson from the right circle
4:54: A one-timer by Robidas from the left point is blocked.
4:48: A shot by Polak from the right point is blocked.
4:42: Robidas booms a shot form the left point. Letang blocks.
3:56: A wrister by Downie from the right circle floats juuust wide to the far side.
3:52: Dupuis collects a puck at the left point and immediately whips it on net. Bernier snags it.
3:47: Off an offensive zone steal, Goc backhands a puck from the slot. Bernier steers ita way.
3:01: Off a feed by Crosby, Dupuis whacks a slapper from the right half wall. Bernier fends it off.
2:51: Crosby drives to the cage from the right wing corner but can't beat Bernier.
2:43: A wrister by Despres from the right point sails wide to the far side.
2:14: Hornqvist tries to push a puck up the right wing and is LEVELED on a shoulder check by Phaneuf at the Maple Leafs' blue line. Malkin jumps Phaneuf. Malkin jumps Phaneuf immediately. Officials step in and break it up fairly quickly. What a hit. Malkin gets two minors for roughing while Phaneuf gets only one roughing minor. Not a composed moment by Malkin. He can't put his team down a man with a one-goal lead late. Goc, Adams, Martin and Letang take the ice. The Maple Leafs pull Bernier for an extra attacker.
2:11: A shot off the ensuing faceoff by Kadri is blocked by Adams and cleared down ice by Letang.
1:46: Kessel booms a one-timer from the left half wall. Greiss eats it up.
1:08: Gardner strikes a one-timer from the center point wide of the cage.
0:42: WOW! Kessel snaps off a wrister from the left circle. It hits a battle and rattles around. Greiss reaches back with his stick and swats it away. Man.
0:14: The power play expires.
0:00: End of game. Penguins 2, Maple Leafs 1.
-First things first, Mike Johnston said Brandon Sutter was "okay" after receiving stitches to repair damage to his ear late in regulation.
-The Penguins' penalty kill got back on track tonight and won this game. It had to. Evgeni Malkin took a bad penalty late in regulation and put his team's penalty kill in a bad situation. Paul Martin, Kris Letang, Craig Adams, Marcel Goc and Thomas Greiss bailed out the team and Malkin in a big way with that monster penalty kill late in regulation.
-To compound matters, Sutter, one of the team's best penalty killers, was unavailable at the time. It just wasn't a very composed moment by Malkin based on the situation at hand.
-There's something to be said for team toughness and backing up a teammate. But composure and restraints are also attributes of being mentally tough. Malkin didn't display either of those in that situation. While his actions were hardly selfish as he was trying to avenge Patric Hornqvist, he put his team in a bad situation against an opponent with one of the better power plays in the NHL. (It was ranked fourth in the NHL prior to the game). He had to be more aware of the situation.
-We get that it's a game in November and in the grand scheme of things, it's not that important, but the Penguins did take the ice with the purpose of winning the game. Actions like that work against that goal.
-In our opinion, the notion of team toughness can be overblown. The 2010-11 Penguins had the second most fights in the NHL with 71. Yet, Malkin and Sidney Crosby each finished the season on injured reserve. That toughness didn't prevent them from facing plenty of abuse that season.
-As far as the rest of game is concerned, it was a strange contest in that each of these teams have two of the better offenses in the NHL yet they only produced three goals.
-The goaltending for each team was strong. Greiss flat out stole goals on some quality scoring chances. His counterpart, Jonathan Bernier was strong against a steady barrage of shots. Each goaltender played well enough to win this game.
-As a whole, the Penguins' penalty kill got back on track tonight. It killed all six chances from a strong Maple Leafs power play. They allowed plenty of shots including several quality chances in tight, but the Penguins' penalty killers, minus Sutter on two power plays, did a great job of getting a stick or leg on several shots or passes.
-The Pascal Dupuis-Sidney Crosby-Chris Kunitz line was back in the saddle again and it looked marvelous. Their chemistry was evident immediately.
-Malkin had some chemistry with Hornqvist and Nick Spaling, but it would be a stretch to say they were very comfortable. It will take a few games.
-Beau Bennett had a solid game with Sutter and Downie. While he was used on the left wing, he created quite a few things from the right wing.
-The fourth line of Adams, Goc and Zach Sill even got in on the act a few times.
-Robert Bortuzzo and Christian Ehrhoff looked a million times better tonight than they did Wednesday against the Rangers. Each player had a role in the Penguins' goals.
-The other two pairings of Kris Letang-Paul Martin and Simon Despres-Rob Scuderi had fairly clean games.
-The Penguins led in shots on net, 41-31.
-The Penguins led the game in attempted shots, 77-64.
-Dupuis led the game with eight shots.
-Phil Kessel led the Maple Leafs with seven shots.
-Letang led the game with 27:14 of ice time.
-Jake Gardiner led the Maple Leafs with 23:11.
-The Penguins led in faceoffs, 35-31 (53 percent).
-Crosby and Tyler Bozak were each 13 for 21 (62 percent).
-Morgan Rielly led the game with five blocked shots.
-Adams led the Penguins with four blocked shots.