The Toronto Maple Leafs were embarrassed on Tuesday night and their fanbase was boiling as the team slipped out of the playoff seedings. In front of the home crowd, Toronto was much better against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. Toronto was desperate while the Penguins stumbled. Toronto scored three goals in the following moments after an offensive zone faceoff win and prevented any Penguins score.
Toronto beat the Penguins 4-0 Thursday at the Scotiabank Arena. However, the Penguins remain in first place of the Metro Division as the Montreal Canadiens also beat second-place Washington Capitals.
Toronto found their stride in the second period. Early in the period, Toronto finally cracked the scoreboard. Immediately following an offensive zone faceoff, Toronto defenseman Jake Muzzin (5) blasted a 60-foot slapshot past Murray to the far post.
Toronto’s landslide continued. A couple of minutes later, and a couple of Penguins penalties later, Toronto converted the five-on-three power play. Again, Toronto scored immediately after an offensive zone faceoff as William Nylander (27) whipped a shot through Murray’s five-hole.
“It’s no excuse. You have to win the draw and give yourself a chance,” said Sidney Crosby. “But if you lose it, it’s not a guaranteed goal, either. So we’ve got to find a way to win more draws. And if we lose it, find a way to defend it.”
The second-period attack concluded with Kasperi Kapanen’s breakaway goal, six minutes after the first Toronto goal. Kapanen (12) picked the corner over Murray’s blocker for the 3-0 Toronto lead.
After the Penguins ran over Toronto on Tuesday night, the Toronto fan base had its finger firmly on the panic button. In the first period, Toronto worked much harder than the previous spanking and was shot-for-shot with the Penguins throughout the first period.
“We didn’t deserve to win tonight. They played better than us,” said Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan. “They outplayed us. They got what they deserved and so did we.”
The best chance for a Penguins score was late in the first period. The Penguins power play, which scored on all three chances on Tuesday gained momentum for the Penguins at the end of the period. The Penguins fired six shots on goal during the power play but failed to score.
“I don’t think we went into this game with a big head or thinking we’re better than we are. I don’t think that was the case,” Crosby said. “For the most part we’re a pretty hard-working team. We come with the right mentality every night.”
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, who missed Tuesday night due to illness, was back in the lineup. Malkin’s winger Jared McCann dropped the mitts with Kapanen in the second period. It was McCann’s fifth professional fight since 2017.
Zach Hyman put the dagger in the Penguins hearts early in the third period. Hyman deflected Mitch Marner’s shot from the point. Murray made the initial save but Hyman (19) outworked defenseman Justin Schultz and finished his second chance.
Late in the third period, Penguins winger Dominik Kahun had to be helped off the ice after he blocked a shot. Replays appeared to show the puck hit Kahun on the knee. Kahun returned from a concussion earlier this week.
Murray stopped 28 of 32 shots. Andersen made a few high pressure saves late in the first period, but wasn’t stretched again. The Toronto goalie made 25 shots for the shutout win.