Aftermath: Maple Leafs 4, Penguins 3
Sunday, 12.27.2009 / 10:18 PM ET / Features
By Sam Kasan
|The Penguins were never able to get to their game, namely getting the puck deep in the offensive zone and grinding opposing teams down. Instead, Toronto managed to take the puck into the attacking zone and forced Pittsburgh to spend considerable amounts of energy in the defensive zone.
The Maple Leafs' offensive zone pressure allowed them to capitalize for a few goals and kept the Penguins from mounting an attack. Thus, the Penguins found themselves playing from behind a majority of the game and couldn’t overcome the circumstances.
|PITTSBURGH (AP) -Defenseman Ian White broke a tie with 1:22 to play with his third goal in four games and the Toronto Maple Leafs held on for a 4-3 victory over the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday night.|
|SHOT OF THE NIGHT|
Jordan Staal and Mike Rupp help celebrate Matt Cooke's first-period goal
(photo by Getty)
|What Went Well: Fighting Back
The Penguins played the entire game from behind. It was a constant uphill battle but Pittsburgh kept plugging away. With their effort, the Penguins were able to erase three one-goal leads and even tied the game with less than two minutes left in the game. That being said…
What Could Have Gone Better: Falling Behind
The Penguins were never able to gain an advantage over Toronto. The Maple Leafs held 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3 leads. Pittsburgh was able to even up the scoring but couldn’t net the lead. Toronto managed to pull ahead each time, keeping the Penguins playing from behind.
|Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik was a force every time he stepped on the ice. He finished the game with a game-high seven hits and two blocked shots while logging 19:32 minutes of ice time.|
|The Maple Leafs struck first with a goal 2:28 into the first period. Luke Schenn threw a shot on net from above the far circle that traveled through a few bodies in front of Marc-Andre Fleury and into the goal on the far side. Toronto 1, Pittsburgh 0.
Just minutes after Toronto took the early lead, the Penguins tied the game on a great individual effort by Matt Cooke. The Leafs won a faceoff in the Penguins zone but Garnet Exelby’s shot from the near point was blocked by Cooke. Cooke then skated past Exelby to collect the puck and raced for a two-on-one with Mike Rupp. Cooke held the puck until the last possible second before snapping a shot into the far corner behind Vesa Toskala. Pittsburgh 1, Toronto 1.
Toronto regained the lead with a power-play goal with 3:28 left in the opening frame. Tomas Kaberle took a shot from the midpoint that deflected off of Alexei Ponikarovsky in front and caromed to Lee Stempniak to the side of the goal. Stempniak just got his stick on the rubber to guide it over the goal line. Toronto 2, Pittsburgh 1.
Pittsburgh tied the game in the second period with a power-play goal by Sidney Crosby. The Penguins captain had the puck behind the net and skated 270 degrees before slipping the puck, from below the goal line, through Toskala’s right pad. The puck then caromed off his left pad and traveled into the goal for Crosby’s team-leading 23rd score. Pittsburgh 2, Toronto 2.
Toronto grabbed the lead again with 4:53 remaining in the second period when Jason Blake’s shot from the high slot sneaked through the five-hole of Fleury. Toronto 3, Pittsburgh 2.
The Penguins tied the game with 2:25 left in the game. Evgeni Malkin stole the puck and skated around the boards in the Toronto zone. From the near faceoff dot, Malkin snapped a backdoor pass to Rupp on the doorstep. Rupp easily tapped the puck across the goal line behind Toskala. Pittsburgh 3, Toronto 3.
Ian White gave Toronto the victory when his slap shot from just inside the far circle just hit the inside corner of the net with 1:22 remaining in the game. Toronto 4, Pittsburgh 3.
|In a lineup twist, the Penguins scratched forward Tyler Kennedy. Mike Rupp was elevated to the “third” line with Jordan Staal and Matt Cooke.
The Penguins had a special guest in the press box, long-time PA announcer John Barbero. Barbero is undergoing treatments for an inoperable brain tumor. He handled the Penguins PA duties for 36 years through the 2009 Stanley Cup Final.
The contest with the Toronto Maple Leafs occurred nine years to the day that Penguins owner Mario Lemieux returned to the ice from retirement against, ironically, Toronto in a 5-0 Penguins’ victory on Dec. 27, 2000. Lemieux scored once and had two assists, including a helper 33 seconds into the opening seconds of the game, in one of the most amazing nights in the history of professional sports.
|> Pittsburgh dropped to 26-12-1 on the season with a 13-7-1 mark at Mellon Arena. The Penguins have only lost four times in regulation in their last 17 contests (12-4-1).
> Scoring Summary:
TOR, L.Schenn (1), 2:28 1st period: Maple Leafs 1, Penguins 0
PIT, M.Cooke (7), 5:01 1st period: Penguins 1, Maple Leafs 1
TOR, L.Stempniak PP (10), 16:32 1st period: Maple Leafs 2, Penguins 1
PIT, S.Crosby PP (23), 7:48 2nd period: Penguins 2, Maple Leafs 2
TOR, J.Blake (9), 15:07 2nd period: Maple Leafs 3, Penguins 2
PIT, M.Rupp (10), 17:45 3rd period: Penguins 3, Maple Leafs 3
TOR, I.White (8), 18:38 3rd period: Maple Leafs 4, Penguins 3
> The Penguins are now 44-15-5 in the regular season since head coach Dan Bylsma took over. They have a record of 23-8-2 at Mellon Arena.
> Sidney Crosby scored his team-leading 23rd goal and now has 22 points (11G-11A) in the last 12 games he’s played.
> Evgeni Malkin notched his team-leading 25th assist of the season and now has 13 points (5G-8A) in his past 11 games.
> Sergei Gonchar recorded an assist and has posted four points in his last two games (1G-3A).
|THREE STARS||QUOTE OF THE NIGHT|
|“It was a game that was up for grabs and they got it.”
- Mike Rupp
Author: Sam Kasan