-The Penguins entered this season with quite a few questions about their bottom six forwards. They enter tonight's game with relatively few of those NHL-caliber bodies in their bottom six available. Injuries have ravaged their bottom two lines and as a result, we'll be getting a good look at quite a few of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins' finest.
-Frankly, the results with the third line could not be any worse than what we've seen much of the season. This line has offered little in the way of production, defense or even chemistry. The idea of Brandon Sutter centering Chris Conner and Andrew Ebbett might seem absurd, but is it really any worse than seeing Sutter between the likes of Jayson Megna, Beau Bennett or Matt D'Agostini? At this rate, anything is worth a try.
-The D'Agostini era has come to an end in Pittsburgh as he was claimed off waivers by the Sabres today. D'Agostini was a low-risk experiment at $550,000. As a player who had 21-goals in 2010-11, it was worthwhile kicking his tires. A suspected hip injury in the preseason sabotaged the start of his season and he never really seemed to get rolling. He got several shifts or even complete games on lines with Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby and didn't really accomplish much with those chances. He never established much chemistry with Brandon Sutter either. He has a good shot and can skate well when healthy so he'll always have some value in the NHL.
-We're not sure if there is any connection through this avenue but D'Agostini and Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan each have ties to the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL. A rebuilding team like the Sabres are an ideal fit for D'Agostini. He can get some time in a top six role and earn a new contract.
-With Paul Martin out long-term, it's time for Kris Letang to set up. He is expected to be teamed with Brooks Orpik on a defensive pairing tonight in five-on-five play and he is expected to man the point on the top power play. If he wants to be a franchise defenseman, there's never a better time to prove that than right now.
-Simon Despres makes his return to Pittsburgh after getting called up this morning. By all accounts, he's been outstanding in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Dan Bylsma said his play there this season has been his most consistent stretch of games within the organization. We're not sure if this is now or never for Despres to prove he's an NHLer with the Penguins, but this is as good of a chance as he'll ever get. He is expected to be teamed with Matt Niskanen.
-The other defensive pairing is expected to be Deryk Engelland and Olli Matta. We're not sure what Robert Bortuzzo has done to earn a so many healthy scratches but it's not as if Deryk Engelland has given any reason to sit in the press box either over the past week or so.
-Despres, Conner and Jayson Megna had to make a somewhat dicey drive through the mountains of Western Pennsylvania during the storm which rolled through the Northeast yesterday. They actually had a car service do the driving for them. Team management didn't want one of the players to do the actual driving through the poor weather.
-When the Penguins played the Maple Leafs in a 4-1 road loss Oct. 26, Sidney Crosby had to face the Maple Leafs' top defensive pairing of Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson as well as pesky defensive center Dave Bolland. Crosby went without a point that game and only won 12 of 30 faceoffs that night.
-Roughly a month later, Bolland is out long term with a serious ankle injury. It'll be interesting to see who the Maple Leafs try to match up against Crosby tonight, even as the road team.
-Regardless of who Crosby sees tonight, the second line has to continue it's torrid pace. James Neal has found a groove and Evgeni Malkin is creating offense all over the attacking zone. This line had been the biggest benefactor to the tough defensive matchups Crosby's line has faced.
-Roughly 48 hours after ten former players including former Penguins left winger Brad Aitken filed a lawsuit against the NHL alleging the league did not do enough to protect players from concussions, the number of players who have joined the suit has swelled to more than 200. When asked about it yesterday, Penguins right winger Craig Adams, the team's player representative to the NHLPA, made clear in no uncertain terms, the players association is not involved with this lawsuit. There seem to be a lot more questions than answers about the case at this point.
-Dahntahn Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving eve:
-Brooks Orpik Team USA:
-Fans entering the barn:
-Jersey Foul of the Night: Paul Stastny Avalanche:
-There are a TON of Maple Leafs fans. It's at pre-Crosby era levels of infiltration. Dion Phaneuf:
-Wendel Clark, Tie Domi and Mats Sundin:
And Alex Kovalev:
-Former Penguins/Maple Leafs center Ron Francis:
-Jersey Of the Night: With an approving nod from that gentleman on the right, Gary Roberts:
-The Penguins' starters are Jussi Jokinen, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Deryk Engelland, Olli Maatta and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Robert Bortuzzo and Zach Sill.
-The Maple Leafs' starters are David Clarkson, Nazem Kadri, Mason Raymond, Carl Gunnarsson, Dion Phaneuf and Jonathan Bernier.
-Their scratches are Jake Gardiner, Joffrey Lupul and Frazer McLaren.
-Jeff Jimerson handles the anthems:
19:28: Jussi Jokinen flicks a wrister from t he right circle. Bernier fights it off.
19:06: From above the right circle, Crosby grips and rips a wrister which Bernier fights off out of play.
18:03: The new third line strikes. After Conner sticks Peter Holland on his wallet with a reverse hit in the Toronto's left wing corner, Ebbett whips a wrister from the corner which Bernier fights off. Ebbett settles the rebound and deals a pass to Conner in the slot. Conner is able to plunk a forehand shot by the left skate of Bernier and into the cage. It was a hard-working and pretty goal the same time. Ebbett and Sutter get assists. The Hey Song is played. Penguins 1-0.
17:01: Fleury and Mattaa fumble an exchange behind the cage. That results in a chance in right for Raymond who can't get a clean shot off.
16:23: Simon Despres collects a puck at the right point and pops a slapper on net. Bernier fights it off.
16:05: Kunit digs a puck o f right wing corne and deals to Crosby in the slot. Crosby spins off a check from Tyler Bozak and lifts a backhander on net. Bernier eats it up.
14:59: Holland pursues a puck which is bouncing up the right wing boards. Despres pinchs him off with a body check away from the puck. That's two minutes for interference. That's a legit call by the books but how often are the books followed to the letter? Sutter, Adams, Orpik and Letang take the ice.
14:51: The Maple Leafs don't take long to strike. Off a defensive zone faceoff win, Orpik fails to clears a puck out of his own right wing corner. Cody Franson collects it at the right point and deals a pass to Phaneuf on the left point. Phaneuf puts a quick slapper at the cage to the far side. James van Riemsdyk has a moving screen in front of Fleury who allows the puck to blow by his glove hand. van Riemsdyk gets credit for the goal. Phaneuf and Franson get assists. Pin that one on Orpik. Maple Leafs 1, Penguins 1.
13:53: Battling for a puck in Toronto's left wing corner, Pascal Dupuis drops Gunnarsson with a solid hit into the boards.
12:41: The third line almost strikes again, After Conner forces a neutral zone turnover, Sutter hustles up the right wing and sneaks a pass to Ebbett on the back door. Ebbett has his stick tied up just enough that he taps the puck wide on the far side. Lots of chemistry thus far with the new third line.
12:01: Attendance is announced as 18,660. It is the team's 300th consecutive sellout.
11:31: Kessel sneaks a shot on net from the right of the cage. Fleury smothers it.
9:40: Conner chips a puck up the right wing boards, races by Morgan Reilly, collects it and whips a wrister on net from a tough angle. Bernier fights it off.
9:22: Off a neutral zone steal, Kessel lifts a wrister from the right circle which Despres blocks.
8:19: After Malkin has a shot blocked in the offensive zone, that leads to a two-on-one in transition for the Maple Leafs. Nazem Kadri lugs the puck up the right wing. Engelland slides down to take away the pass. Kadri elects to shoot and sneaks a wrister under the blocker of Fleury who didn't look prepared for that shot. That was a sick shot by Kadri but every player in black on the ice during that play looked awful on that play. Mark Fraser gets the only assist. Maple Leafs 2-1.
8:08: Off an offensive zone steal by Malkin, Neal tries to jam in forehand shot form the right of the cage. No dice.
5:41: Kunit snaps of a bad angle shot from the left wing. Bernier fights it off.
5:32: Off a feed from Crosby, Orpik blasts a slapper from the right point wide on the near side.
4:44: More third line chemistry. After Andrew Ebbett and Conner dig a puck o of the right wing corner, Conner deals a pass to Sutter set up at the right faceoff dot. Sutter cranks a one-timer which Franson blocks.
3:22: Reilly leads a rush up the right wing and is separated from the puck after being slammed into the right wing boards by Despres. Great play by Despres.
2:36: van Riemsdyk snap off a wrister from the left wing wide to the far side.
1:52: After Raymond steals a puck off Letang on the right wing boards of the
1:30: Raymond snaps off a wrister from the right circle. Maatta leans down to block it.
1:23: Jokinen drives a slapper on net from the left wing on net. Bernier fights it off.
1:06: Off a nifty pass by Jokinen, Malkin uses Franson as a screen in the right circle and puts a wrister on net. Bernier eats it up.
0:00: End of period. Maple Leafs, 2, Penguins 1.
-We've seen the Penguins play worst first periods of hockey but this was not a great start to the game. They had some stretches of strong play but those were wiped out by some moments of sloppiness.
-We'll start with the good. The new third line looked great. It generated three chances by forcing turnovers through hard work. Sutter looks far more comfortable with Conner and Ebbett than he ever did with the rotating crew of characters he had on his wings the first month and a half of the season.
-Simon Despres looked pretty comfortable in his return. He wasn't afraid to lay a hit or to take a shot. He did take a penalty which led to the Maple Leafs' first goal but it was kind of a ticky tack penalty based on how loose the rules have been most of the season.
-That was it for the good. Fleury looked a little leaky, at least on the second goal by Kadri.
-The Maple Leafs Leafs seemed offer some issues for the Penguins with regards to their speed.
-The Penguins' top line didn't generate many quality scoring chances.
-Orpik's struggles continued. He had a role in the Bruins' first two goals Monday.
-There is plenty of hitting on both sides. There have been lots of meaty hits thus far.
-The Penguins have a 17-10 lead in shots on net.
The Penguins have a 30-22 lead in attempted shots.
-Jokinen leads the game with four shots.
-Paul Ranger, Holland and Kessel each lead the Maple Leafs with two shots.
-Reilly leads the game with 8:23 of ice time.
-Letang is right behind him with 8:18.
-The Penguins have an 11-9 lead in faceoffs (55 percent).
-Crosby is 5 for 7 (71 percent).
-Jarred Smithson is 2 for 3 (67 percent).
-Fraser and Franson each lead the game with two blocked shots.
19:47: What a start to the period. Fleury and Letang fumble a puck behind the net. van Riemsdyk simply takes it right off him and puts it into the open cage. What in the world was that? Dan Byslma pull the hook on Fleury and replaces him with Zatkoff. Fleury heads down the rampway to his dressing room and smashes his stick against the wall. The goal is unassisted. Maple Leafs 3-1.
19:18: Kris Letang is just a disaster right now. He simply has he puck stolen off him by Bozak behind the Penguins' cage. Bozak deals a pass to Kessel all alone in the slot. Kessel leans down and booms a one-timer by a helpless Zatkoff. Letang is having a meltdown to start this period. Bozak gets the only assist. Maple Leafs 4-1.
18:29: The hole gets deeper for the Penguins as Neal slashes Nikolai Kulemin in the Maple Leafs' zone. Orpik, Engelland, Sutter and Adams take the ice.
17:58: Franson lifts a slapper from above the right circle. Zatkoff eats it up.
17:51: Phaneufl flings a wrister from the right point. Zatkoff kicks it out. Bozak get a stick on the re
17:28: Kessen snaps off a wrister from the right half wall wide of the cage.
16:33: Raymond booms a slapper form above the right circle. Orpik blocks.
16:29: Neal's minor is killed. The Maple Leafs generated some solid chances.
16:25: From the right of the cage, Clark tries to jab in a forehand shot from the right of the cage. It hits off the far post.
16:08: Zatkoff tries to collect a puck behind his own cage an is knocked over by Kadri. Orpik and Adams each give grief to Kadri behind the cage. A scrum develops. Kardi is called for goaltender interference.
16:05: Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Letang slides a pass from the left point to Malkin at the right point. Malkin uncorks a one-timer which is blocked and kicked out to the neutral zone.
15:51: Crosby booms a one-timer from the right half wall Bernier kicks it out.
14:56: Letang wahcks a slapper from the right point. van Riemsdyk hustles over and deflects it out of play.
14:08: Kadri returns to the ice after relatively little threat from the Penguins
13:57: Kadri chucks up the right wing one-one-one against Despres. Despre holds his ground and blocks the shot. Great effort by Despres.
13:05: Holland has a wrister from the right circle blocked by Dupuis who is on a line with the great Joe vtale
12:26: Matt Niskanen wires a slapper from the right point. Bernier fights it off.
11:43: Another chance for the penguins. Matta booms a slapper from the right point. It hits a body in front. There's a scramble for the puck but no one in a black jersey can get to it. Gunnarsson hooked down Kunitz above the blue paint. Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Letang and Kunitz take the ice.
11:33: Malkin comes through. Letang takes a pass above the left circle, fakes a slapper and deals a pass to Malkin in the right circle. Malkin uncorks a one-timer to the far side by Bernier's blocker. It narrows the deficit to two goals. Letang and Crosby get assists. The "Hey Song" always comes through. Maple Leafs 4-2.
10:10: The Penguins aren't quitting. Orpik flings a wrister from the center point towards a cluster of bodies in front of the cage. It hits a body or two and bobbles around. Ebbet whacks at it. The puck hops up and there's a scrum for it. Bernier appear to knock it in with his blocker. Officials rule a goal on the ice but immediately seek a video review. After a lengthy review, officals determine Malkin hit the puck with a high stick before it hit off Bernier's blocker. It's a legit call. A video review showed Malkin's stick coming in contact with the puck above the crossbar.
9:35: Phaneuf knocks over Crosby behind the cage. Crosby gets up and gives Phaneuf the business as play moves back up to the Penguins' zone.
9:18: Crosby and Phaneuf continue their battle on the right wing boards of the Toronto zone. Crosby give him a series of facewashes. Each player receives a roughing minors. Four on four play for two minutes.
8:04: Letang races into the offensive zone on the right wing and flings a wrister on net. Bernier eats it up.
7:18: Phaneuf and Crosby return to the ice.
6:40: Phaneuf airmails a slapper from just inde the blue lien on the left wing. Zatkoff gloves it.
6:17: A one-timer by Letang from the right point is booted out by Bernier.
5:15: Another chance for the Penguins. as Holland is sent to the penalty box for interference against Neal. Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Kunitz and Letang take the ice.
4:40: Letang gets a measure of retribution. Letang settles apuck at the right point looks up and booms a slapper. It hits off a stick in the slot and deflects under Bernier. Kunitz gets credit for the goal. Letang and Neal get assists. The penguins aren't wasting their power plays. Fleury is officially off the hook for the loss now. It's Zatkoff's game of record at this point. The "Hey Song" is played.
2:03: Using Reilly as a screen, Neal rips a wrister from the right circle. Bernier fights it off.
1:29: Malkin rips a wrister from the left circle. Ranger blocks the puck. It kicks out to the right circle where Neal puts it back on net. Bernier fights it off.
1:11: Kessel snaps off a wrister from the right circle.
0:53: Kuntiz has a wrister from the left circle blocked.
0:47: Dupuis booms a one-time form the left crlce off the side of the cage.
0:05: And just like that, any momentum the Penguins had is snuffed out. Off a neutral zone giveaway, van Riemsdyk carries the puck over the Penguins blue line on the right wing. He snaps off wobbly wrister to the far side. Zatkoff makes the stop initially but Bozak is able to poke in the rebound. An incredibly sloppy goal for Zatkoff to allow and it crushes the Penguins' momentum. van Riemsdyk gets the only assist. Maple Leafs, 5-3.
0:00: End of period. Maple Leafs, 5, Penguins 3.
-Where do you start with this mess of a period? We'll begin with the obvious target in Letang. If there's a perfect example of what he offers a team, it was that period. He was so up and down. He had some just horrendous plays which led to early Toronto goals. Then he comes back with two nice plays to create two goals for the Penguins. There is no in between for him.
-Jeff Zatkoff jumped into a flaming mine fire and did little to put it out. Just when his team needed a routine save, he allowed a sloppy goal at the end of the period which crushed his team's momentum. That was unforgiveable.
-Brooks Orpik is having a rough game once again. Two of his turnovers have led to Toronto goals. He needs to be better.
-The Penguins' lines and defensive pairings are all over the place. There's no sense in evaluating them right now.
-Despite his team's deficit, Despres has looked really confident.
-The crazy thing is, the Penguins still have a chance at this. The Maple Leafs' defense hasn't been sharp.
-The Penguins have a 29-24 lead in shots on net.
-The Penguins have a 51-43 lead in attempted shots.
-Kessel leads the game with six shots.
-Jokinen , Despres and Crosby each lead the game with four shots.
-Orpik leads the gaame with 16:37 of ice time.
-Ranger leads the Maple Leafs with 14:52.
-The Penguins have a 25-18 lead in faceoffs (58 percent).
-Crosby is 11 for 17 (65 percent).
-Bozak is 9 for 21 (43 percent).
-Franson leads the game with three blocked shots.
-Despres leads the Penguins with two blocked shots.
18:35: Nskanen sneaks up the right win and pops a slapper on net. Bernier kicks it out.
17:50: Kessel heads down the runway after a collision with malkin
17:48: Another power play for the Penguins. Smithson held up Letang behind the Penguins' net. That's two minutes. Malkin Letang, Crosby, Kunitz and Neal take the ice.
16:42: The hole gets deeper for the Maple leafs as van Riemsdyk held up Letang in the Penguins' zone. The Penguin will have a two-man advantage for 54 seconds. A goal here is a must. Malkin, Crosby, Neal, Kunitz and Letang take the ice.
16:34: Off a feed by Malkin from the high slot, Neal fires a one-timer form the right circle. Bernier fights it out of play.
16:23: As Bozak works without stick, Letang fire a slapper from the left circle wid of the cage.
16:14: Malkin takes advantage of Bozak and creates more offense. Malkin controls the puck at the high slot. Bozak challenges him minus his stick. Malkin just toys with him. As Bozak nearly puts a bear hug on Malkin, Malkn is able to deal a pass to Neal int he right circle. Neal, in one motion, releases a lethal one-timer by Bernier on the near side. What a shot! The Penguins will still have 1:32 of one-man advantage to work with. Malkin and Letang get assists. Maple Leafs, 5-4.
15:34: Letang corrals a puck at the center point and chops it on net. Bernier fights it off despite traffic.
1501: Off a feed by Jokinen from the slot Malkin booms a one-timer on net form the right circle. Bernier fights it off
14:53: Things are evened up as Malkin is nabbed for highsticking Raymond on the right wing boards of the Toronto zone. Play will be four on for for 11 seconds.
14:37: As the Maple Leafs take over on a power play, Sutter lifts a shorthanded wrister from the high slot over the cage.
14:15: A wrister by Kessle from right circle is blocked wide by the stick of Adams.
13:04: A wrister by Gunnarsson from the left circle is blocked by Letang.
12:19: What? What? What? Kunitz slinks down the right wing and backhands a pass to the blue paint. Crosby crashes in but can't get a clean shot off. Bernier fails to cove the puck. Malkin crashes sin from the left wing an pokes it into the open cage. Almost impossibly, we have a tie game. What in the world is happening? This is maddness. Cats and dogs living together. The dead rising form the gave. Crosby and Kunitz get assists. Maple Leafs 5, Penguins 5.
11:50: A roaring "LET'S GO PENS!" chant rains down.
10:15: Off a give and go between Crosby and Kunitz in the Toronto left wing corner, Dupuis has a chance in tight but can't get it behind Bernier.
8:17: Crosby gets loose on t he right wing. He hustles with a puck and from the right circle, he backhands a pass to Kunitz in the left circle. The puck hops up a bit on Kunitz and he shuffles it on net. Bernier is able to stretch to his right and fight it off. There was a scoring change on the Penguins' third goal. Letang was given credit for it while Neal and and Kunitz got assists.
7:36: Neal is on with Dupuis and Crosby. Neal chucks a wrister from the left corner to the net. Dupuis jabs it on net. Bernier holds it out.
6:44: Cruising up the left wing on a two-on-one with Sutter, Conner elects to shoot and puts the puck off the side of the cage.
6:16: Jokinen deal a pass from behind the Toronto net to Malkin crashing in. Malkin takes a tumble and fails to get a clean shot off.
4:56: Malkin rips a wrister from the left circle which Fraser blocks.
4:13: After Ebbett forces a turnover behind the Toronto cage, Sutter gets two chances in tight but can't beat Bernier.
2:48: Jokinen has a shot/pass from the left wing blocked by Faser.
2:23: Niskanen air mails a slapper from the neutral zone on net. Bernier gloves it.
1:39: After an icing call, the Penguins call a timeout to get a breather.
0:29: Franson chops a slapper from the right point which is locked wide of the cage.
0:00: End of period. Maple Leafs 5, Penguins 5.
-The Penguins have a 46-24 lead in shots.
5:00: In a four-on-four situation to start the period, the Penguins send out Engelland and Orpik with Crosby and Kunitz.
3:50: Despres chucks a wrister from the right point wide to the far side.
2:55: Conner gets loose on the right wing<he races in on net and releases a wrister. Phaneuf closes in and deflects his shot out of play with a stick.
2:22: Letang gets too fancy with the puck in his own zone and loses to a forechecking Raymond. Crosby has to steal it back to prevent a shot.
2:15: Letang challenges Phaneuf one-on-one with the puck in the Toronto zone. Phaneuf bodies him of it.
1:19: Malkin chips a little backhander from the right circle. Bernier eats it up.
0:38: Neal gallosp in on the left wing and puts a wrister on net. Bernier fights it off.
0:00: End of period. Maple Leafs 5, Penguins 5.
-The Penguins ahve a 48-24 lead in shots.
-Jokinen, one of the best, is up first. He takes the puck, veers a bit to the right, levels out, pulls up just in front of the hash marks and lifts a wrister which Bernier's blocker fights off.
-Bozak gets the nod for Toronto. he veers a bit to the left, attacks the net and shoots five hole. Zatkoff kicks it out and sweep away the rebound.
-Crosby take the puck, goes a bit to the left, levels out, gets Bernier to attempt a poke check, tucks it by Bernier's stick and into the cage. Penguins 1-0.
-Clarkson gets the call. He attacks down the slot, goes backhand and is denied by Zatkoff's right leg.
-Malkin can win it. He takes the puck, veers to the right, levels out, slows down and snaps off a wrister behind Bernier's blocker to win the game. End of shootout. Penguins 2, Maple Leafs 0. End of game. Penguins 6, Maple Leafs 5.
-We don't even know how to assess this game. It defied any thing resembling conventional logic within the realm of professional hockey.
-Should the Penguins be happy they got two points? Absolutely. Should they be happy with how they got two points. Absolutely not. This was a mess of a game for them. Allowing themselves to get down by a 4-1 deficit in the fashion they did was inexcusable. They flat out stole a point, let alone two, tonight.
-Let's move on to Kris Letang. Remember Game 4 of the Penguins' Eastern Conference semifinal against the Senators? Kris Letang was involved in quite a bit of offense in that game. The Penguins won 7-4 and Letang was involved in seven goals - four of his own team and three for the Senators. That was what his game tonight reminded us of.
-Tonight, Letang was involved in five goals - three for the Penguins and two for the Maple Leafs. We don't know what else to say about this guy. He has a horrendous start to the second period then does just about everything he can to get his team back in the game. There's sooooo much talent to his game but sadly, there an equal amount of inconsistency.
How crazy was this game? After the Penguins gave up FIVE goals in the first two periods, they did not permit the Maple Leafs to record a shot in the third or overtime period.
-Almost lost in tonight's insanity was the dominance of Evgeni Malkin. Almost. He only sparked his team's comeback with an effort which led to two regulation goals, an assist and the shootout goal which secured the win.
-Breaking down Malkin's points, the first was a blistering one-timer from his office in the right circle to the far side. On the seconded, he simply toyed with Tyler Bozak, who was working without a stick, then set up James Neal with a perfect pass for a one-timer in the right circle. On the third, Malkin got away with a little bit of a penalty as he basically shoved Jonathan Bernier with his stick then poked in the puck.
-After the game, Maple Leaf's coach Randy Carlyle said of the goal, "He pushed the goaltender into the net and then deposited the puck.... He definitely pushed the pads … the goaltender into the net but we’re not supposed to complain about that stuff."
-The Penguins' power play torched the Maple Leafs going 3 for 5. There were doubts about what Kris Letang could offer as the point man on the power play in the absence of Paul Martin. He proved a lot of doubters wrong in that specific area of the game. His pass to set up Malkin's first goal was perfectly placed.
-Simon Despres made a statement tonight. He shook off an early penalty, a questionable one at that, and played a very confident and very physical game. When Despres was assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton out of training camp, Bylsma said part of that decision was based on Despres' peformance in the preseason. Tonight, he said Despres was "excellent."
-Despres had 18:58 of ice time on 23 shifts, most of it came in even-strength play. He had 40 seconds of penalty kill time. He recorded two shots and three blocked shots.
-The new third line, when it was used and the lines weren't all jumbled for stretches of the third period, actually contributed and posed an offensive threat. That's the first time you could say that about this team's third line all season long. Andrew Ebbett and Chris Conner quickly established a chemistry with Brandon Sutter that Sutter failed to create with the likes of Matt D'Agostini, Beau Bennett or others. They created the Penguins' first goal with pure and simple hard work then created several other scoring chances by just hustling.
-Brooks Orpik's rough play continued. After being involved with two goals by the Bruins Monday, he had two turnovers tonight which led to Toronto goals. He's had a rough go of things this week.
-Marc-Andre Fleury was not sharp, but the start of that game should not heaped on his shoulders. He should have made a save on at least one of Toronto's third goals but his defense was horrendous in front of him.
-We wouldn't worry about Fleury. Giving him a chance to rest after a fairly heavy workload as of late could be a good thing heading into Friday's game at Tampa Bay. At least tonight, he got to get some rest.
-We're not sure how to assess Jeff Zatkoff. The goal he allowed at the end of the second period could have been crippling. The Penguins made sure he didn't face a single shot in the third or overtime period and he got a win. A win is a win but ... that... we're not sure how to assess it.
-The Penguins lines and their defensive pairings were all over the place tonight.
-As bad of a game as that was for the Penguins... they at least got a win. The Maple Leafs simply blew this one. They had a commanding 5-3 lead after Tyler Bozak's period late in the second period. After the Penguins regained some momentum in the second, Bozak's goal could could have crippled the Penguins. Instead, the Maple Leafs came out flat and "earned" this loss.
-We don't know how you can assess Jonathan Bernier in this game. He was bombarded with shots all night long and didn't really give up any softies. He deserved better.
-James van Riemsdyk appears to becoming more and more of Penguin killer. He netted two goals and an assist tonight.
-The Maple Leafs found a way to bottle up Sidney Crosby's line fairly well tonight. They stuck Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson on Crosby most of the night and limited the looks that line had in five-on-five play.
-The Penguins' led in shots on net, 48-24.
-The Penguins led in attempted shots, 87-53.
-Neal led the game with 10 shots. Ten!
-The only Penguins' skaters who failed to record a shot on net were Craig Adams, the great Joe Vitale and Jayson Megna.
-Phil Kessel led the Maple Leafs with six shots.
-Orpik led the game with 25:48 of ice time.
-Dion Phaneuf was right behind him with 25:46.
-The Penguins led in faceoffs 38-30 (56 percent).
-Crosby was 19 for 29 (66 percent).
-Jay McClement was 5 for 7 (71 percent).
-Mark Fraser led the game with five blocked shots.
-Despres and Letang each led the game with three blocked shots.
-Malkin extended a scoring streak to six games.
-Zatkoff (third round) and Bernier (first round) were each draft picks of the Kings in 2006.
-Ebbett recorded a point in his Penguins debut.
-The Penguins tied a franchise record by holding an opponent to no shots in a regulation period. They did not allow a shot to the Panthers in the first period of a game, Feb. 21, 2001.
-Crosby now has 698 career points.
-Letang (217 points) passed up Randy Cunneyworth (216) for 37th place on the franchise's all-time scoring list.
-Neal (137) moved past Stu Barnes (136) for 61st place.