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Penguins Struggle Against Maple Leafs Attack, Overwhelmed 4-1

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Pittsburgh Penguins game, Toronto Maple Leafs

The Pittsburgh Penguins (31-12-8) fell behind just 21 seconds into the game and were never close. The Toronto Maple Leafs attacked the Penguins in all three zones but only got a goal from Evgeni Malkin as Toronto goalie Jack Campbell was impressive. On Thursday, the Penguins had 46 shots, but Toronto won, 4-1 at Scotiabank Arena.

Campbell was good, but he didn’t rob the Penguins. They did a pretty good job serving Toronto Grade A chances with 19 giveaways. Toronto had another 11 takeaways.

A lot of pucks went the other way. Tristan Jarry was also very, very good. He stopped 25 of 29. The Penguins four-game winning streak ended, as did Sidney Crosby‘s six-game point streak.

Toronto didn’t waste much time before they lit the lamp. On the game’s first shift, it was not Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who is notorious for scoring early, but Toronto captain Auston Matthews. Just 21 seconds into the game, Matthews (33) flew the zone for a breakaway goal.

Toronto had a few odd-man rushes and more Grade-A chances in the first period, but Tristan Jarry made a few pretty saves to keep the Penguins close.

Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan swapped his middle-six forwards and juggled the Penguins lines. Evan Rodrigues moved to the third-line center spot, and Jeff Carter flipped to the second-line LW with Evgeni Malkin.

The Penguins’ lack of push from their middle lines was evident, as was the aggressive Toronto attack. Toronto attacked the puck in all three zones and on special teams.

Morgan Reilly burned the Penguins PK unit early in the second period with an end-to-end goal. The Penguins PK played soft, assuming Reilly would pass or pull up, but Reilly blew past both forwards out of his zone and through center ice. Then he whizzed past both Penguins defensemen, John Marino and Brian Dumoulin, for a clean look at Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry.

Reilly (6) ripped the shot past Jarry.

Later in the second period, the Toronto attack remained unrelenting. On the Penguins power play, David Kampf stole the puck from Penguins defenseman Kris Letang at the blue line, and it became a two-on-none breakaway. Kampf (7) swept around Jarry and buried the puck into a loose net.

Toronto was able to sag backward in the third period, though the Penguins attacked early.

Jeff Carter was stuffed by Campbell a few times in the first two periods but finally cracked the Blue and White goalie. Carter weaved through a couple of defensemen early in the third period. Carter got two whacks at his chance, but Evgeni Malkin (6) raced to the net for the final whack and Penguins’ first goal.

However, Michael Bunting finished another Penguins turnover and Toronto odd-man rush. Bunting got behind both Kris Letang and center Evan Rodrigues. Bunting (16) beat Jarry from a few feet away when Matthews’s saucer pass landed perfectly on his blade.

Evgeni Malkin led all players with six shots on goal. Jeff Carter and Sidney Crosby had five, each.

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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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Jack McCrory
Jack McCrory
2 months ago

How can LeTang look so good in one game and so absolutely horrible in the next game. Maybe they can leave 42 in Toronto.

Jay95
Jay95
2 months ago
Reply to  Jack McCrory

I didn’t catch who Letang was it there with during his down moments. The turnover is bad, but it comes with trying to create. I think a lot of it has to do with Dumo this year. He’s really off and a step slower. That definitely affects how your partner is viewed.

Chase Cranson
Chase Cranson
2 months ago

Prelude to the playoffs mainly because Hextall will not get what they need

Jay95
Jay95
2 months ago

Looking forward to the grades on this one.

Dave Heyl
Dave Heyl
2 months ago

Wow! When will they realize Malkin, Kapanen don’t play Sullivan’s system. Letang is a turn over machine & they have no intimidating presence. Zohorna has potential to help. Carter with Malkin does not work. Nothing works with Malkin!

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