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Toronto, McCabe End Penguins’ Winning Streak, 3-2, in OT



The effort was there for the Pittsburgh Penguins. So were the focus and commitment and desperation they’ve been playing with for more than a week.

This time, though, it wasn’t quite enough, in part because they had another 0-fer night on the power play.

But despite losing to Toronto, 3-2, at Scotiabank Arena in overtime Monday night, pushing the game past the third period allowed the Penguins to earn a point, tying them with Detroit for the second wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

The Penguins, whose four-game winning streak was snapped, are 36-30-12 and trail the third-place New York Islanders by one point in the Metropolitan Division.

The Penguins have four games remaining, beginning with one against the Red Wings Thursday at PPG Paints Arena. Detroit and the Islanders have five each.

Maple Leafs defenseman Jack McCabe scored the game-winner at 1:30 of overtime, taking a feed from Auston Matthews before driving to the net and putting a shot past Penguins goalie Alex Nedeljkovic.

Penguins winger Rickard Rakell scored the only goal during the opening period, as he took a pass from Evgeni Malkin and beat Maple Leafs goalie Ilya Samsonov with a turning shot from the left dot at 18:06.

Although Michael Bunting didn’t get an assist, the screen he set in front of Samsonov was a key element in that goal, Rakell’s 14th of the season and 200th in the NHL.

It marked the fifth game in a row in which the Penguins opened the scoring; they won the previous four.

The Penguins finished the period with a 10-5 edge in shots, and a clear edge in play.

Nedeljkovic, making his ninth consecutive start, faced just two shots during the first 15 minutes.

The Penguins had the only two power plays during the period, as Toronto defenseman Simon Benoit tripped Bunting at 9:47 and Ilya Lyubushkin was called for boarding Reilly Smith at 12:18.

Despite generating some good pressure during both chances with the extra man, the Pittsburgh Penguins were unable to capitalize on either.

That proved to be costly, because Toronto regrouped during the intermission and dominated play when the second period began.

The Maple Leafs made it 1-1 at 5:36, as Matthew Knies set up at the front edge of the crease and steered a T.J. Brodie feed past Nedeljkovic.

Knies’ goal came on one of six shots Toronto recorded during the first 6 1/2 minutes of the period, surpassing the total they managed in 20 minutes during the first.

William Nylander held Sidney Crosby at 8:17, giving the Penguins their third man-advantage of the evening. It was cut short when Rakell was sent off for slashing Mitch Marner at 9:56, but Maple Leafs defenseman Mark Giordano tripped Jeff Carter at 11:15, abbreviating his team’s power play.

McCabe rode Crosby into the Toronto net at 16:38, driving Crosby’s right leg into the goalpost and picking up an interference minor.

Five seconds after McCabe’s penalty expired, Maple Leafs forward Bobby McMann was assessed a double-minor for high-sticking Crosby in the face, but a video review determined that Crosby actually had been struck by the puck, not McMann’s stick, so the penalties were rescinded.

Matthews broke the tie with a power-play goal at 1:22 of the third period, scoring on a slap shot from the right side of the slot three seconds after Penguins defenseman Erik Karlsson was penalized for tripping Nylander.

The goal was Matthews’ sixth in the past five games and his league-leading 65th of the season, making him the first NHL player to reach that level since Alex Ovechkin in 2007-08.

That looked to be the game-winner until Drew O’Connor swept a P.O Joseph rebound out of the crease and into the net at 13:38 for his 14th to force overtime. Crosby got the second assist.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will have an off-day — their final scheduled one of the regular season — Tuesday and will practice at PPG Paints Arena Wednesday.