TORONTO — Brock McGinn is filling the net. The Pittsburgh Penguins have won two in a row.
McGinn scored a shorthanded goal that ignited the Penguins against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday. On Friday, McGinn and the Penguins’ third line again provided the game-winner, this time at even strength early in the third period as the Penguins beat the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-2 at Scotiabank Arena.
Tied 2-2 in the third, the Penguins pounced on a center-ice turnover. McGinn (3) beat Toronto netminder Erik Kallgren from the high slot.
Jake Guentzel scored the empty netter. The Penguins held Toronto to just four shots in the third period.
Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith earned his second consecutive start and stopped 24 of the first 26 shots through 40 minutes and 28 of 30. After seeing a few chances in the first period, Kallgren had a sleepy second period. He stopped 14 of the first 16 chances but didn’t get McGinn’s stoppable wrister.
For a few years, if Zach Aston-Reese scored a goal, Penguins fans would be happy. However, Aston-Reese is applying his trade with Toronto, and he buried a juicy rebound later in the first period. Penguins defenseman Kris Letang leaned on Aston-Reese (2), but the winger immediately slapped the puck past Casey DeSmith.
Evgeni Malkin had one of those first periods. Malkin took a pair of needless penalties that gave the talented Toronto power play a few good chances. However, Malkin’s line also generated a few chances.
Late in the first period, Chad Ruhwedel’s shot was blocked, but it reached Malkin in the slot. Malkin (6) had a wide-open net and buried, followed by a big first pump (and a little dig at the referees as he made a tripping signal, too).
Malkin further atoned in the second period. About one minute into the period, Malkin took advantage of a Toronto misplay that caromed out to center ice. He poked it past defenseman TJ Brodie for a two-on-one, then made a ridiculous spinning backhand pass to Zucker (4), who blasted it past Toronto goalie Erik Kallgren.
The Penguins were behind the play and the puck in the second period. They were outshot 16-8 and yielded an astounding seven high-danger scoring chances.
Yet Toronto only scored a power-play goal late in the period. William Nylander hung at the blue line for a power-play breakaway and pulled DeSmith out of the net, only to hit the post. However, a minute later, Nylander (6) ripped a one-timer from the left circle to tie the game 2-2.
The Penguins were outshot in the second period, 16-8, but were well outchanced, according to NaturalStatTrick.com and most eye tests. Toronto had 14 scoring chances and seven high-danger chances in the second, compared to only one Penguins high-danger chance.
The Penguins broke their seven-game winless streak with a win over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday. Toronto’s five-game points streak
P.O Joseph did not finish the game on Wednesday. He remained on the ice well after the morning skate working with injured and scratched players, including Teddy Blueger. Chad Ruhwedel took the left side of the third pairing with Jan Rutta.
Hall of Fame Inductions:
The Hockey Hall of Fame is a mere block away from the Scotiabank Arena. Friday was the Hall of Fame game, in which the 2021 and 2022 inductees were honored.
Most honorees were able to attend, but the moment everyone will remember was the emotional ovation and acceptance of Borje Salming, who was a Toronto Maple Leafs fan favorite from 1973 through 1989. Salming was one of the Top 100 players of all time, his likeness already hangs in the rafters of the Scotiabank Arena, and the 71-year-old hockey icon has ALS.
Salming can no longer speak and needed a little support from fellow honorees Mats Sundin and Darryl Sittler to remain standing through the ceremony, which delayed the game by more than 20 minutes.
Sittler could not hide his tears as the crowd roared for Salming. Sundin and Sittler helped Salming wave to the crowd, though Salming’s expression indicated to everyone that he, too, felt the emotion.
The Hall of Fame inductions are Monday. Among the inductees are former NHL players inducted are Daniel Alfredsson, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Roberto Luongo.