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Report Card: ‘No One Looks for Excuses,’ Penguins Toast Toronto (+)



NHL trade: Pittsburgh Penguins, Drew O'Connor, Danton Heinen, Jason Zucker

The Pittsburgh Penguins weren’t supposed to score more than a few goals, at best. Without four of their top five players, the Penguins lineup made decimated seem like an upgrade. Still, heavy defense and eventually the Penguins began converting chances in a 7-1 smackdown of the Toronto Maple Leafs at PPG Paints Arena.

The Penguins played simply in the first 10 minutes and for most of the second and third periods. Their resolute coverage of the defensive zone ensnared Toronto, and the Penguins had three odd-man rushes in the first period. And more in the second.

And more in the third.

“I think we’ve always had a mindset here that there’s an expectation to win, and that has just been the standard of the Pittsburgh Penguins,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “And you know, this organization has been very successful for a long time. Part of that is there’s an expectation to win every night. And so regardless of who’s in your lineup, I think the players deserve so much credit because they’re the guys that set the bar, they set the standard. And no one looks for excuses.”

It was as impressive as unexpected.

It didn’t start well. Brock McGinn fumbled a couple of odd-man rushes, and the script seemed to follow expectations–the Penguins played hard but struggled to score.

Then the drama became a Disney feel-good epic complete with a John Williams score. And shock became a boisterous wave around the PPG Paints Arena. The good news won out, as the Penguins began converting their chances immediately after the first intermission.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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