The Toronto Maple Leafs took advantage of the Pittsburgh Penguins who played their fourth game in six nights. The Penguins started well but Toronto’s speed and seemingly relentless waves eventually wore down the Penguins. After the Penguins claimed the first two goals of the game, Toronto tilted the ice for the next three and the Penguins couldn’t answer their speed game. Zach Hyman won a net-front battle late in the second period and Toronto beat the Penguins 3-2 at Scotia Bank Arena.
Auston Matthews crashed the net late in the first period. Matthews (23) easily chipped a rebound past Penguins goaltender Matt Murray late first period. The goal changed the game as it cut the Penguins’ early two-goal lead and it set up the explosive second period which defined the game.
Midway through the second period, Travis Dermott (4) who had an assist on Mathews goal, tallied himself a one-timer goal from the point. The puck rocketed through several players area in front of Murray who never saw it.
“I thought we played a good first period. We didn’t have enough pushback in the second period,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. “That was the difference.”
Toronto had momentum and Hyman scored the game-winner in the final minutes of the second period. Hyman inserted himself in the Penguins crease. Penguins defenseman Kris Letang was trapped on a long shift and Hyman (9) won the puck battle to snap it past Murray.
The Penguins did acquit themselves well in the first and third period. Less than one minute after Toronto forward Conor Brown earned rest in the penalty box for high-sticking Letang, the Penguins power play scored the first goal of the game.
Midway through the period, Letang slid a pass to Crosby in the right wing circle. Crosby (23) launched a one-timer over the glove hand of Toronto goalie Garret Sparks.
The goal was Crosby’s 23rd point in the last 17 games.
A goal from the most notable Penguin was followed by a score from one of the team’s newest and most promising faces on the fourth line.
Teddy Blueger, who scored first career goal in his second career game Friday night, added his second in as many nights. Later in the first period, Blueger and the Penguins fourth line created a couple of turnovers in the offensive zone. Garrett Wilson kicked the puck to Blueger (2) who whipped it past Sparks.
“Olli (Maatta) did a good job pinching in. The puck came out to (Garrett Wilson) and he did a good job of recognizing I was coming after it,” said Blueger. “He kind of kicked it over to me.”
The home team did not go so quietly into the night, and responded with the next three goals and held on in the third period.
The Penguins dropped their second game since returning from the All-star break while the Maple Leafs bounced back from their Friday night loss against the Red Wings.
Matt Murray stopped 30 of 33 shots including several sparkling saves as Toronto found gaps in the Penguins seams for a few breakaways and clean looks. The Penguins chip-n-chase game put 30 shots on Sparks.