The Penguins started strong against the Toronto Maple Leafs, jumping out to an early 1-0 lead. But the Leafs countered with four unanswered goals, including a backbreaker on the power play with 2:55 to play, to take a 4-1 victory at Air Canada Centre Saturday night.
Defenseman Kris Letang tallied for the Penguins on the power play while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 26 shots.
The Leafs had goals from Dave Bolland (2), Nazem Kadri and Phil Kessel. James Reimer was brilliant in net for Toronto, turning aside 37 pucks for the victory.
“The third period was the difference,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “We did a good job in the second of getting momentum. We didn’t capitalize. They scored the second goal (in the third period) and get a big boost from that and carry the play in the third.”
The Penguins' record drops to 7-5 and they’ve now lost three in a row following a 7-2 start.
“The three games, while a little bit different, have a similar theme to them, we carry the play, outshoot,” head coach Dan Bylsma. “In the second period in particular we had a lot of good offensive zone time, came out in the third period made a turnover and it turns into an odd-man rush. That’s all they needed for the game-winning goal.”
Defenseman Rob Scuderi left the game in the second period after being hit along the boards by David Clarkson. Scuderi, who played just 7:26 minutes of ice time, needed assistance getting off the ice and did not return.
“Don’t have any definitive news on the lower-body injury, but he’ll be re-evaluated when he gets back to Pittsburgh,” Bylsma said.
Bylsma wasn’t sure if Scuderi will return immediately for Pittsburgh or remain with the team as they go to Carolina to play the Hurricanes Monday night.
“I’ve seen the replay and he gets hit shoulder-on-shoulder,” Bylsma said of the hit. “I don’t know if it’s coming down. He was lifted off his feet and came down. It wasn’t clearly evident by a big hit. I don’t know exactly what happened to cause the injury.”
The Penguins dressed Deryk Engelland as a forward. With Scuderi down, Engelland returned to his natural position on defense.
Defenseman Kris Letang is back to shouldering his normal workload on the Penguins blue line.
Letang, who averaged over 25-plus minutes per game last season, missed the first nine games of the season with a lower-body injury. He returned to the lineup with back-to-back contests Friday night vs. the NY Islanders and Saturday night in Toronto.
Letang, who is possibly the best-conditioned player on the team, skated 25:32 minutes Friday and followed that with 25:40 more Saturday.
“I felt pretty good,” he said after the game. “When Scuderi went down and we had to play five D it’s a little bit hard. I’m trying to get back into as much as I can. I felt pretty good.”
Forward Matt D’Agostini was removed from long-term injured reserve on Saturday and made his Penguins debut against the Leafs. He finished the game with 13:01 minutes of ice time and four shots.
His best chance came in the second period from the slot, but Reimer was fast with the glove to make a save.
SHOTS, SHOTS, SHOTS
The Penguins continue to fire an insane amount of shots on goal. They threw 38 pucks at Reimer. In the last three games, the Penguins have sent 114 shots on goal.
Author: Sam Kasan