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Post Route Podcast: Episode 11

Written by Sam Werner on .

POST ROUTE PODCAST: WEEK 11

Hello and welcome back to another week of the Post Route Podcast, hosted by Post-Gazette college writers Sam Werner (Pitt) and Stephen J. Nesbitt (WVU).

West Virginia’s second-half comeback fell short Thursday night, as the Mountaineers dropped a 26-20 decision to No. 12 Kansas State. Pitt kept its postseason hopes alive with a 30-7 win against Syracuse at Heinz Field.

On a time crunch? Here are some helpful time stamps:

1:09-13:33: Bowl eligibility is still a possibility after a strong showing against a very weak Orange team. Next up? Miami, on the road. How does the running game shape up this week after RB James Conner left in the second quarter against Syracuse? Defense was an encouraging aspect of the win last weekend; what needs to happen for a repeat performance Saturday? How to stop that offense, with QB Brad Kaaya and RB Duke Johnson? If Pitt wins this one, what are a few possible bowl landing spots?

13:34-28:17: For the first time this year, there’s a QB competition in Morgantown, right? No, no, says coach Dana Holgorsen. If QB Clint Trickett returns healthy from a concussion this week, he’ll start; is that the right move? Iowa State is winless in the Big 12; are they due for a weird home win, or are they just that bad? What problems do the Cyclones present that could trip West Virginia up and lead to a fourth straight loss? And, really, can recent history repeat itself?

28:18-44:43: Very little movement in the important segments of the College Football Playoff committee rankings this week. Is Florida State — still unbeaten — still being undervalued? They’ve won, but won ugly. Is that worth better than a No. 3 ranking? This week, there are rivalry games galore: TCU/Texas, Stanford/UCLA, Arizona State/Arizona, Auburn/Alabama, Mississippi State/Ole Miss, Georgia/Georgia Tech. All great stuff. We break down those and more to close out the 11th edition of the podcast.

Sam Werner: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Twitter @swernerpg. | Stephen J. Nesbitt: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.

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To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
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Post Route Podcast: Episode 11

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

POST ROUTE PODCAST: WEEK 11

Hello and welcome back to another week of the Post Route Podcast, hosted by Post-Gazette college writers Sam Werner (Pitt) and Stephen J. Nesbitt (WVU).

West Virginia’s second-half comeback fell short Thursday night, as the Mountaineers dropped a 26-20 decision to No. 12 Kansas State. Pitt kept its postseason hopes alive with a 30-7 win against Syracuse at Heinz Field.

On a time crunch? Here are some helpful time stamps:

1:09-13:33: Bowl eligibility is still a possibility after a strong showing against a very weak Orange team. Next up? Miami, on the road. How does the running game shape up this week after RB James Conner left in the second quarter against Syracuse? Defense was an encouraging aspect of the win last weekend; what needs to happen for a repeat performance Saturday? How to stop that offense, with QB Brad Kaaya and RB Duke Johnson? If Pitt wins this one, what are a few possible bowl landing spots?

13:34-28:17: For the first time this year, there’s a QB competition in Morgantown, right? No, no, says coach Dana Holgorsen. If QB Clint Trickett returns healthy from a concussion this week, he’ll start; is that the right move? Iowa State is winless in the Big 12; are they due for a weird home win, or are they just that bad? What problems do the Cyclones present that could trip West Virginia up and lead to a fourth straight loss? And, really, can recent history repeat itself?

28:18-44:43: Very little movement in the important segments of the College Football Playoff committee rankings this week. Is Florida State — still unbeaten — still being undervalued? They’ve won, but won ugly. Is that worth better than a No. 3 ranking? This week, there are rivalry games galore: TCU/Texas, Stanford/UCLA, Arizona State/Arizona, Auburn/Alabama, Mississippi State/Ole Miss, Georgia/Georgia Tech. All great stuff. We break down those and more to close out the 11th edition of the podcast.

Sam Werner: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Twitter @swernerpg. | Stephen J. Nesbitt: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
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Complete PIAA quarterfinal playoff schedule

Written by Mike White on .

The PIAA football quarterfinals are this weekend. Here is the complete schedule:

 

PIAA CLASS AAAA PLAYOFFS
Western Region
Saturday — Quarterfinals: State College (6-6) vs. Pine-Richland (13-0) at Mansion Park Stadium, Altoona 1 p.m.; District 3 Championship: West Lawn Wilson (13-0) vs. Central Dauphin (11-2) at Hershey Park Stadium, 6 p.m.
Eastern Region
Friday — District 1 Championship: Coatesville (13-0) vs. Pennsbury (12-1) at Souderton, 7 p. m.
Saturday — Quarterfinals: Parkland (11-2) vs. St. Joseph’s Prep (8-3) at J. Birney Crum Stadium, Allentown, 1 p.m. 
 
PIAA CLASS AAA PLAYOFFS
Western Region
Friday — District 3 Championship: Bishop McDevitt (13-0) vs. Cocalico (10-3) at Hershey Park Stadium, 7 p.m.; Quarterfinals: Central Valley (13-0) vs. Conneaut (11-1) at North Allegheny, 7 p.m.
Eastern Region
Friday — Quarterfinals: Archbishop Wood (11-1) vs. Great Valley (12-1) at Philadelphia Northeast, 7 p.m.
Saturday — Quarterfinals: Somerset (12-1) vs. Bethlehem Catholic (12-1) at Chambersburg, 2 p.m..
 
PIAA CLASS AA PLAYOFFS
Western Region
Friday — Quarterfinals:  Karns City (11-1) vs. South Fayette (13-0) at Clarion University, 7 p.m.
Saturday — Quarterfinals: Tyrone (12-1) vs. Hickory (10-2) at DuBois, 1 p. m. 
Eastern Region
Saturday — Quarterfinals: Montoursville (9-4) vs. Wyomissing (12-1) at Shamokin, 1 p. m.; Quarterfinals: Neumann-Goretti (9-4) vs. Dunmore (12-1) Northern Lehigh, 1 p.m.
 
PIAA CLASS A PLAYOFFS
Western Region
Friday — Quarterfinals: Clairton (13-0) vs. Berlin Brothersvalley (12-1) at Elizabeth Forward, 7 p.m.; Sharpsville (10-3) vs. Kane (12-1) at Slippery Rock University, 7 p.m.
Eastern Region
Friday — Quarterfinals: Camp Hill (10-2) vs. Bishop Guilfoyle (13-0) at Chambersburg, 7 p.m.; Pius X (11-2) vs. South Williamsport (12-1) at Northern Lehigh, 7 p.m.

 

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Maple Leafs at Penguins - 11-26-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

PREGAME

-Something we've made a frequent note of through the first two months of the season is how composed Patric Hornqvist is. Despite being an agitating net-front player who takes heaps of abuse - legal or otherwise - from opponents, he doesn't take a great deal of penalties. When he gets a cross check to the back or a facewash, he doesn't retaliate.

-Towards the end of regulation in Monday's 3-2 overtime win in Boston, the Bruins were nabbed for too many men with just over two minutes left. In attempt to even thing, pest-like Bruins forward Brad Marchand grabbed Hornqvist by the chin while Hornqvist was on his knees. Hornqvist jolted to his skates and started screaming while standing nose to nose with Marchand. And that's a considerable nose when it comes to Marchand. That was probably the most emotion we can recall seeing from Hornqvist when it comes to interacting with an opponent this season.

-We asked Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson about Hornqvist, his former teammate with the Predators and his composure. He said, "That's what made a lot of teams angry. He wouldn't do it back. He's whistle to whistle."

-It's more than fair to say the person he was traded for, James Neal, did not have the same restraint in such situations.

-This might be Jayson Megna's one last chance to show he can stick with the Penguins. With Beau Bennett out for a few weeks due to his apparent right knee injury, Megna will slot in on the left wing of the third line alongside Brandon Sutter and Steve Downie. Megna seems like he has the skillset to play that role. He could be a smarter version but weaker version of Tyler Kennedy. He can skate up and down the ice and isn't afraid to shoot. He has put up good numbers in a first-line role with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Can he do the same, albeit in a third-line role, with the Pittsburgh Penguins?

-They 102nd Grey Cup will be played this weekend. That's the CFL's version of the Super Bowl. In an attempt to to make small talk with a few of the Canadian-born Penguins, we asked Robert Bortuzzo, of Thunder Bay, Ont., if he was going to watch the game Sunday. He asked, "Who's in it?" Privy to the conversation, Olli Maatta, of Jyväskylä, Finland, blurted out with a smile, "Calgary and Hamilton."

-When asked why he was so well versed in the CFL, Maatta explained while with the London (Ont.) Knights, the Canadian players would tease the American players about the Grey Cup being bigger than the actual Super Bowl and the American players. Wanting to get immersed into North American culture, Maatta got into the CFL and remains a casual fan.

-Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle was asked about Chris Kunitz who he coached with the Ducks. He had a pretty good description by saying Kunitz was "fearless."

-If you're wondering how Pascal Dupuis would function while he's on injured reserve, he was on the bench yesterday during practice chirping anyone who dared skated by:

-The ice:

-Fans entering the barn:

-A diehard Dustin Jeffrey fan:

-Johan "Moose" Hedberg:

-Alex Alexei Kovalev:

-Jaromir Jagr:

-Kevin Stevens:

-As usual, there are plenty of Maple Leafs fans on hand. Joffrey Lupul:

-Dion Phaneuf:

-Phil Kessel:

-Mats Sundin:

-Former Penguins/Maple Leafs forward/demigod Gary Roberts:

-If you wear a Kyle Wellwood in any walk of life, let alone for a road game, you're hardcore:

-We're guessing this Connor McDavid fan might be from Buffalo or Raleigh:

-Former Penguins/Maple Leafs goaltender Tom Barrasso:

-Former Penguins/Maple Leafs forward Ron Francis:

-Jersey of the Night: Clear the Track, here comes Eddie Shack:

(We were assured that is a game-worn jersey.)

-Warm ups:

-The Penguins' starters are Blake Comeau, Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin, Christian Ehrhoff, Olli Maatta and Marc-Andre Fleury.

-Their scratches are Beau Bennett and Robert Bortuzzo.

-The Maple Leafs' starters are Nazem Kadri, Leo Komarov, Mike Santorelli, Cody Franson, Dion Phaneuf and Jonathan Bernier.

-Their scratches are Richard Panik and Roman Polak.

-Jeff Jimerson handles both anthems:

FIRST PERIOD

19:42: Blake Comeau fires  a wrister from the right circle. Bernier fends it off.

19:34: Blake Comeau keeps scoring. Ehrhoff whacks a one-timer from the right point. It goes wide on the near side, off a deflection. From the right of the cage, Malkin is able to backhand the rebound off the ends boards to above the blue paint. Comeau fends off Morgan Reilly and backhands the puck awkwardly while falling. The puck sneaks under Bernier and into the cage. Keep saying Comeau isn't a top-six forward. He'll just keep scoring. Malkin and Ehrhoff get assists. Penguins 1-0.

18:23: Stephane Robidas rips a wrister from above the left circle. Fleury steers it away.

17:38: Letang glides into the offensive zone and rips a wrister from the right circle. Bernier eats it up.

17:17: Martin whacks a one-timer from center point. It hits off the end boards and deflects to the left circle. Ehrhoff is all over it but sends his shot just wide to the far side.

16:33: On a delayed penalty, Franson floats a wrister from the right point. Fleury denies it. Malkin is called for tripping Kadri near the right side of the Penguins' cage. Martin, Craig Adams, Marcel Goc, and Kris Letang take the ice.

14:33: Two minutes later, the Malkin minor is killed with minimal threat from the Maple LEafs.

14:15: Off a drop pass from Malkin, Kunitz rips a wrister from the left circle. Bernier is able to fight it off and smother the rebound as Sidney Crosby buzzes around looking for a rebound.

12:54: Comeau smacks Robidas into the Toronto end boards with a nice forecheck.

11:54: Joffrey Lupul races up the right wing and rips a wrister high on net to the far side. Fleury shrugs it off with his right shoulder.

11:27: Letang chucks a wrister form the right point. It hits something in the right circle. Crosby sweeps the rebound to in the left circle and Martin jabs it on net quickly. Bernier fights it off.

10:45: Another power play for the Maple Leafs. Nick Spaling is called for slashing Phaneuf's stick in front of the Toronto net and breaking it. Goc, Adams, Letang and Martin take the ice.

10:39: From above the left circle, Phaneuf rips a wrister which Fleury fends off.

10:17: Taking a feed in the left circle, Phaneuf walks in and rips a wrister which Fleury fights off.

9:54: Kessel snaps off a wrister form the left circle. Fleury punches it away.

9:44: Kessel floats a wrister from the right point. Fleury gets a piece of it.

9:14: Tyler Bozak chops a rebound with a backhander from the left of the blue paint. Fleury says no.

9:00: Rielly snaps off a wrister from the left point. Fleury punches it out. Peter Holland fires it back on net from the left wing. Fleury says no.

8:49: David Clarkson wraps up Ehrhoff in the Penguins' left wing corner. . That's two minutes for holding. We'll see four-on-four play for four seconds.

8:45: Spaling's minor is killed. The Penguins will have a power play for 1:56.

7:21: Tic-Tac-BOOM! From the right circle, Crosby feeds a cross-ice pass to Letang above the left circle. Letang one touches it to Malkin at Center point and Malkin unleashes a wicked one-timer by the glove hand of Bernier. Wow. That was pretty. Letang and Crosby get assists. Penguins 2-0.

6:44: Booth lifts a wrister from the right wing. EHrhoff blocks it and it flips over the cage and out of play.

5:59: A backhander by Sutter is off the mark.

5:08: A wrister by Ehrhoff is off the mark.

3:30: Zach Sill rattles Franson with a hit.

2:30: Korbinian Holzer chops a slap-pass from the right point. Holzer is in the left circle and re-directs it wide.

2:22: Holzer pounds a slapper from the right point. Fleury boots it out.

1:53: Phaneuf rockets a one-timer from the right point. Fleury fights it off

1:25: Off a feed from Crosby, Spaling rips a wrister form the right circle. Nazem Kadri dives down to block it wide.

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

FIRST INTERMISSION

-If shot attempts are all the rave in the NHL and those who love advanced statistics, the Penguins played a pretty rotten period. They were outshot by a 2-1 margin

-In reality, they were pretty dominant. they overwhelmed the Maple Leafs right off the first shift. Mike Johnston is big on shot volume, especially early on. That first shift was a perfect example of how he wants to play.

-Fleury was outstanding that period. The Maple Leafs got a bulk of their shot attempts on their second power play and he was getting something on every puck they fired on net. He looked really tuned in that period.

-The Maple Leafs have a 14-7 lead in shots on net.

-Attempted shots are tied, 17-17.

-Comeau, Phaneuf and James van Riemsdyk each lead the game with two shots.

-Phaneuf leads the game with 8:52 of ice time.

-Ehrhoff is right behind him with 8:51.

-The Maple Leafs have a 12-10 lead in faceoffs (55 percent).

-Bozak is 5 for 7 (71 percent).

-Brandon Sutter is 4 for 6 (67 percent).

-Bozak leads the game with two blocked shots.

SECOND PERIOD

19:01:  A wrister by Spaling from the left circle is blocked by a sliding Holzer.

17:45: van Riemsdyk chucks a wrister from the left point on net. Fleury snags it.

17:30: Steve Downie streaks up the left wing on a partial two-on-two with Megna, fakes a slapper, hesitate and chops a shot on net. Bernier says no.

16:24: Another Maple Leafs power play. Sutter is called for slashing Jake Gardiner near the Penguins' bench. Goc, Adams, Letang and Martin take the ice.

15:31: Short-handed, Sill pushes the puck up the left wing and centers a pass to Spaling trailing in the slot. Spaling rips a wrister which Bernier kicks out.

14:39: Backpeddling to the center point, Gardiner chops a slapper on net. Fleury identifies it through traffic and gloves it.

14:18: As Sutter's minor expires, Phil Kessel races up the left wing and snaps off a tricky wrister. Fleury has a little trouble with it as he makes the save initially but is able to smother the rebound with his glove hand.

12:40: Megna takes a feed int he slot abut has it stolen by a backchecking Booth. The puck still sides in on Bernier who holds it out and denies a few chances on the rebound.

11:49: The Maple Leafs get on the scoreboard. After Kunitz turns the puck over on a poor pass attempt in the offensive zone, Kadri rushes it puck up the left wing and just as Scuderi hip checks him into the half wall, he's able to deal a pass to Santorelli in the right circle. Santorelli moves it to Komarov in the left circle. Komarov is able to flip a worehand shot over the left shoulder of Fleury on the far side. The Penguins looked really out of sorts in their zone on that play. Santorelli and Kadri get assists. Penguins 2-1.

9:12: Tie game. Santorelli pushes the puck up the the left wing, pulls up and deals a pass to Phaneuf on the left point. Phaneuf chucks a wrister at the cage. Komarov is in the left circle and deflects the puck down off the ice and to the far side by the glove hand of a stumbling Fleury. What a nifty play by Komarov. Along with Santorelli, they are having a great period. Phaneuf and Santorelli get assists. Maple Leafs 2, Penguins 2.

7:31: Gardner pounds a slapper from the high slot. Maatt blocks it.

6:54: Holzer pounds a slapper from the right point. Fleury fights it off. The rebound hops in the air and Malkin strikes it with a high stick.

6:41: The Penguins reclaim the lead. Collecting a loose puck on the left wing, Kunitz turns and fires a slapper at the cage off the wall. Comeau is in front of the cage and re-directs the puck behind Bernier. Comeau keeps finding the net. Kunitz and Malkin get assists. Kunitz needed that assist. Penguins 3-2.

5:09: Battling for a puck on the Penguins' right wing wall, Despres rattles Clarkson with a shoulder into the boards.

4:39: Off some hard work down low by Sutter and Downie, Kunitz snaps off a wrister from the left circle. Bernier fights it off. Robidas is called for hooking Downie. Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Hornqvist and Letang take the ice.

4:32: Crosby chops a slapper form the right cirlce. Bernier kicks it out.

3:54: Off a cross-ice feed from Crosby, Hornqvist grips and rips a wrister from the left circle. Bernier eats it up.

3:39: Speed kills speed. Bozak steals a puck off Letang at the point and pushes it up the left wing wall of the neutral zone. He pulls by Letang, arguably the Penguins' fastest player, and attacks the net. He rips a wrister behind Fleury to tie the game. What a display of speed by Bozak. He separated from Letang who looked like he was dragging an anchor. Crosby didn't make a great pass off the right half wall and that led to the steal by Bozak. The goal is unassisted. Maple Leafs 3, Penguins 3.

2:22: Dealing a pass up ice from the neutral zone, Booth gets spun into the Penguins' bench on a check from Sill.

0:00: End of period. Maple Leafs 3, Penguins 3.

SECOND INTERMISSION

-What a lousy period for the Penguins. Their puck management was the most glaring issue. Turnovers led directly to the first and third goals by Toronto.

-The goal by Bozak was the fourth short-handed goal allowed by the Penguins this season. They are now tied with the Blackhawks for most in the NHL.

-When Blake Comeau is carrying your offense, that's a good thing for Blake Comeau, but no one else.

-The Maple Leafs have a 23-19 lead in shots on net.

-The Penguins have a 34-32 edge in attempted shots.

-Comeau, Kunitz and van Riemsdyk each lead the Penguins with three shots.

-Letang leads the game with 18:01 of ice time.

-Phaneuf leads the Maple Leafs with 17:07 of ice time.

-The Penguins have a 31-19 lead in faceoffs (62 percent).

-Crosby is 11 for 18 (61 percent).

-Bozak is 7 for 17 (41 percent).

-Letang, Robidas and Bozak each lead the game with two blocked shots.

THIRD PERIOD

19:37: A wrister by van Riemsdyk off the right wing is denied by Fleury.

19:25: BIG save. Stealing a bad pass from Kadri in the Toronto zone, Malkin walks in on a mini breakaway from the slot. His forehand shot is denied by Bernier.

18:17: Megna tries to create his own offense by chipping and chasing a puck up the left wing around Rielly. He tries to attack the net from the left circle but loses the puck on a stick-on-puck by Gardiner.

16:59: Adams chops a slapper off the right wing. Phaneuf blocks it.

15:33: Hornqvist backhands a feed from the left wing to the crease. Crosby tries to backhand chip it on net. Bernier is able to eat up the puck. After the whistle, Crosby and Bozak chirp a little bit.

15:27: More penalties. Phaneuf and Hornqvist battle in front of the Toronto net. Hornqvist takes a tumble. Hornqvist is called for holding the stick while Phaneuf gets a hooking minor.

14:55: Stealing a puck off Gardner deep in the Toronto left corner, Crosby delas a feed to Malkin in the slot. Malkin's shot is kicked out by Bernier.

14:41: A big chance here for the Penguins. As Malkin drives to the net, Rielly holds his stick. We'll see a four-on-three for 1:14. The Penguins call timeout to get organized. Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz and Letang take the ice.

14:09: Letang whacks a one-timer from the lef tcilrs but his stick breaks and the shot goes wide. The Maple Leafs are able to clear the puck wide.

12:41: Play returns to five on five. The Penguins were very sloppy with the puck during that chance.

12:14: Megna chips a wrister from the right circle on net. Bernier fights it off.

11:30: Phaneuf wires a slapper from the left point juuust wide to the far side.

11:25: A slapper by Phaneuf from the left point is blocked by a sliding Spaling.

9:38: Ehrhoff cranks a slapper from the right point. It "CLACKS" off someone's stick and is gloved by Bernier. A small scrum breaks out but nothing comes of it.

9:01: Malkin rips a wrister from the right circle which sails well wise of the cage.

7:11: Lupul fires a wrister form the slot wide. It its off the end boards and Holland rips the rebound on net from the left wing. Despres slides down to block it.

7:03: Kadri FLATTENS Ehrhoff int he Penguins' right wing corner with a clean shoulder-on-shoulder check. Oof.

5:42: Winnik rips a wrister from the left circle. Despres blocks it.

5:20: Letang strokes a slapper from the right point. It's off the mark.

4:37: Kadri deals a pass from the left corner to Kessel in the slot. Kessel rips a wrister which Fleury fends off.

3:13; Malkin rips a wrister from the left wing well wide of the cage.

3:08: Kunitz booms a one-timer from the high slot no where near the cage.

2:18: Despres rattles Lupul with a shoulder check into the Penguins' left corner boards.

0:58: Maat booms slapper form the right point into a cluster of bodies the slot. Ther'e a pile of humans wrestling for the puck in the crease. Ehrhoff and Downie each get chances in tight but can't score.

0:27: Maatta lifts a wrister from the left wing. Bernier eats it up.

0:00: End of period. Maple Leafs, Penguins 3.

THIRD INTERMISSION

-The Maple Leafs have a 27-24 lead in shots.

OVERTIME

3:04: Kunitz tries to lineup Kadri for a big hit on a the Toronto blue line but Kadri deftly dodges the hip check.

2:46: Maatta flips a backhander from the left circle. Bernier bats it away with his glove hand.

2:07: Blake Comeau to the rescue. Corralsing a puck at left point, Comeau surveys the offensive zone, hesitates and cranks a slapper which blows by Bernier's blocker. Crosby waved his stick in front of Bernier and potentially got a piece of it. Comeau gets credit. It's a hat trick. Penguins 4, Maple Leafs 3.

POSTGAME

-The Penguins were really good the first shift of the game. They were pretty good on the last shift of the game too. In between, they were pretty bad. Somehow, they were able to scrape out a 4-3 home win in overtime against a Maple Leafs team which deserved a much better fate.

-Let's start with the positive. Blake Comeau. Media (including this little corner of the Internet) and fans keep clamoring for the Penguins to upgrade the top six forwards and pontificating on how Blake Comeau isn't a legitimate top-line winger. All Comeau does is keeps scoring goals. And tonight, he was the team's biggest offensive weapon as he recorded his second career hat trick and first with the Penguins. His first two goals weren't pretty. They were greasy goals from near the crease he had to fight tooth and nail for. His last goal was a work of art. He calmly controlled things at the right point, surveyed the offensive zone and stroked a slapper by Jonathan Bernier.

-Make no mistake, the Penguins clearly need to upgrade their wingers on the first two lines. Blake Comeau isn't going to net a hat trick many nights this season. But he keeps finding ways to provide Penguins management with reasons to keep him in a top-six role.

-Evgeni Malkin's statistics won't look quite as flashy as Comeau's but he might have had the most impact on this game. He tilted the ice anytime he stepped on it. The Maple Leafs looked feeble in trying to defend him on most shifts tonight. He "only' had a goal and two assists tonight but he was arguably the biggest reason the Penguins pulled this win out.

-Simon Despres played a whale of game. He broke up plenty of scoring chances in his own zone with his big body by blocking or breaking up several shots or passes. He was a quietly dominant player at times tonight.

-Shifting to the bad, there was plenty of it. First and foremost, Sidney Crosby looked very sluggish at times tonight. his puck management was brutal at times. He was primarily responsible for a turnover which led to a dazzling short-handed goal by Tyler Bozak. Crosby has had a rough patch of hockey the past 10 games or so. As energized as he looked Monday with new defensive partners, he looked like he was in a funk tonight.

-Chris Kunitz's struggles continued. He had a nice simple play where he simply chopped a puck on net and helped created Comeau's second goal, but his puck management was sloppy too. One of his turnovers led to the first Toronto goal scored by Leo Komarov. He too has been in a funk the past 10 games or so.

-The Penguins need more out of Crosby and Kunitz than they got tonight.

-The Penguins allowed their fourth short-handed goal of the season. That is tied for the most in the NHL with Chicago. By no should anyone complain about a power play clicking at 33.3 percent, but the risk of using four forwards and on defenseman is the potential for momentum-shifting short-handed goals such as the one Bozak scored tonight.

-If Crosby developed any chemistry with Nick Spaling and Patric Hornqvist Monday, it was not evident tonight. They just did not click as a trio tonight.

-Jayson Megna's first full game as Beau Bennett's replacement was underwhelming. He had one nice chip and chase play which nearly led to a shot but beyond that, he was not very noticeable.

-Steve Downie avoided taking a penalty for the second consecutive game and that's certainly a step in the right direction but he was a fairly inert presence tonight. He had a few notable plays but was largely a non-factor.

-Zach Sill had a few solid hits in his return to the lineup and even had some short-handed time. One one penalty kill, he had a solid pass to set up Spaling for a one-timer.

-Since returning from his neck surgery, Olli Maatta hasn't looked as sharp as normally is. He wasn't all that hot tonight either. We wonder where his conditioning is following his layoff.

-After looking really tuned in during the first period, Marc-Andre Fleury allowed three goals. By no means were any of them softies, but he looked fairly mortal after a superb first period.

-The Maple Leafs really deserved a better fate. They played a pretty good game overall. There were stretches in the second and third periods where they looked like they were about to bust things open. They had several shifts where they pinned the Penguins in their own zone for lengthy stretches. They just couldn't finish.

-The Penguins weren't the only team to have a few starts MIA. James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel looked like they were celebrating Thankgiving a day early.

-Jonathan Bernier could have stolen a few goals. He was adequate but hardly fantastic.

-Leo Komarov had a very strong game as evidenced by his two goals. He is a fantastic third-liner. He's physical, agitating, a good skater and can chip in the occasional goal or two.

-The Maple Leafs had a 27-26 edge in shots on net.

-The Penguins led in attempted shots, 53-44.

-Comeau and Maatta each led the game with four shots.

-Van Riemsdyk and Kadri each led the Maple Leafs with three shots.

-Kris Letang led the game with 27:18 of ice time.

-Dion Phaneuf led the Maple Leafs with 26:37.

-The Penguins controlled faceoffs, 41-27 (60 percent).

-Malkin was 11 for 17 (65 percent).

-Bozak was 11 for 13 (46 percent).

-Despres, Bozak, Cody Franson and Stephane Robidas each recorded three blocked shots.

-Crosby recorded his 800th career point on Comeau's overtime goal.

-Game summary.

-Event summary.

-Highlights:

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About the Maple Leafs - 11-26-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Maple Leafs.

When and where: 7:30 p.m., EST, Consol Energy Center.

TV: Root Sports, SportsNet, TVA.

Record: 11-8-2, 24 points. The Maple Leafs are in fifth place in the Atlantic Division.

Leading Scorer: Right winger Phil Kessel, 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists).

Last Game: 4-1 home win against the Red Wings, Saturday. Center Tyler Bozak scored two goals for the Maple Leafs.

Last Game against the Penguins: 2-1 home loss, Nov. 14. Goaltender Jonathan Bernier (right) made 38 saves for the Maple Leafs.

Maple Leafs Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Defenseman Cody Franson. He has a six-game scoring streak against the Penguins.

Ex-Penguins on the Maple Leafs: Randy Carlyle, head coach; Trevor Smith, center.

Ex-Maple Leafs on the Penguins: Tom Fitzgerald, assistant general manager, Jim Rutherford, general manager.

Useless Maple Leafs Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Franson (2005) is one of two players from the Predators' 2005 draft class still active in the NHL. The other is Penguins right winger Patric Hornqvist.

The last time the Penguins played the Maple Leafs, this happened:

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (12-3-1, 2.09 GAA, .926 SV%) for the Penguins. Jonathan Bernier (7-5-2, 2.54 GAA, .919 SV%) for the Maple Leafs.

Injuries: For the Penguins, right winger Beau Bennett (right knee) is out. Right winger Pascal Dupuis (blood clot) is on injured reserve. For the Maple Leafs, left wingers David Booth (broken right foot) and Joffrey Lupul (broken right hand) are on injured reserve. Right winger Brandon Kozun (high ankle sprain) and defenseman Roman Polak (knee) are on injured reserve.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins held an optional skate. Their expected lines and defensive pairings are:

13 Nick Spaling - 87 Sidney Crosby - 72 Patric Hornqvist
14
Chris Kunitz - 71 Evgeni Malkin -  13 Blake Comeau
59 Jayson Megna - 16 Brandon Sutter - 23 Steve Downie
  38 Zach Sill - 57 Marcel Goc - 27 Craig Adams

58 Kris Letang - 7 Paul Martin
  10 Christian Ehrhoff - 3 Olli Maatta
47 Simon Despres - 4 Rob Scuderi

-The Maple Leafs held an optional morning skate. Their lines and defensive pairings at practice yesterday were:

21 James van Riemsdyk - 42 Tyler Bozak - 81 Phil Kessel
26 Daniel Winnik - 24 Peter Holland - 25 Mike Santorelli
47 Leo Komarov - 43 Nazem Kadri - 71 David Clarkson
20 David Booth - 23 Trevor Smith - 19 Joffrey Lupul

3 Dion Phaneuf - 4 Cody Franson
51 Jake Gardiner - 12 Stephane Robidas
44 Morgan Rielly - 55 Korbinian Holzer

Notes:

-Crosby has 798 career points.

-Comeau has 97 career assists.

-Fleury is expected to wear gold pads tonight.

-Robidas has a 198 career assists.

-The Maple Leafs will wear a commeorative patch on their jerseys to honor former coach/defenseman Pat Quinn who died Sunday:

-The referees are Brad Meier (No. 34) and Chris Rooney (No. 5). The linesmen are David Brisebois (No. 96) and Steve Miller (No. 89).

-Our live blog begins at approximately 6:30 p.m. Please tune in.

(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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