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game recap

Penguins 3, Maple Leafs 2

Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 10:22 PM

Associated Press

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Penguins 3, Maple Leafs 2
Toronto Maple Leafs 2, Pittsburgh Penguins 3
Three Stars of the Game
Pascal Dupuis
1st
G: 2Shots: 4
A: 1Hits: 1
PTS: 3PIM: 0
+/-: 2TOI: 14:24
Jordan Staal
2nd
Jordan Staal
C
G: 1Shots: 4
A: 1Hits: 2
PTS: 2PIM: 2
+/-: 2TOI: 19:34
Carl Gunnarsson
3rd
Carl Gunnarsson
G: 1Shots: 3
A: 0Hits: 3
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: 0TOI: 23:57

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Pittsburgh Penguins honored their past Wednesday, unveiling a bronze statue outside Consol Energy Center showcasing the singular talents of Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux.

Then the Penguins went out and showed the present looks pretty good, too.

Pascal Dupuis scored twice and had an assist, and the Pittsburgh rallied to beat the slumping Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 for their seventh straight victory.

"The way we've been playing, we feel like we can come back in every game and we proved it again tonight," Dupuis said.

Jordan Staal added a goal and an assist to extend his points streak to a career-best six games, and rookie Brad Thiessen stopped 22 shots for Pittsburgh, which has won 11 of its last 12 home games.

With Lemieux watching from the owner's box a few hours after the 4,700-pound bronze statue showing him split a pair of defenders during a 1988 game was unveiled, Pittsburgh strengthened its hold on fourth-place in the Eastern Conference by once again roaring back against the Maple Leafs.

On Jan. 31, the Penguins scored three goals in the third period on their way to a shootout victory over Toronto, the tying goal coming on a deflection off Evgeni Malkin's shoulder in the final seconds of regulation.

There were no such heroics necessary this time thanks to Dupuis, who let a handful of chances get away in a victory at Colorado last weekend. He didn't miss while beating Toronto's Jonas Gustavsson for his first multiple-goal game in nearly a year.

"In Colorado I think he had about five breakaways," Staal said. "He's creating a lot of opportunities."

Phil Kessel and Carl Gunnarsson scored for Toronto. The Maple Leafs let an early two-goal lead slip away while falling to 1-2 since Randy Carlyle took over as coach following Ron Wilson's firing.

Carlyle was supposed to rejuvenate a team that has fallen to the fringe of the playoff picture over the last month.

Toronto beat Montreal on Saturday night in his first game behind the bench, but there has been no bounce. The Maple Leafs have lost six of seven and are five points behind eighth-place Winnipeg in the playoff race.

Carlyle scratched defenseman Joffrey Lupul and winger Colby Armstrong after they went down with injuries in a 5-4 loss to Boston on Tuesday. The Maple Leafs then lost defenseman Cody Franson and winger Mike Brown in the first period on Wednesday.

"We showed signs of enthusiasm and stuck with our gameplan," Carlyle said. "I thought our work ethic was stronger and but we ran out of bodies again tonight."

Pittsburgh has no such worries, riding goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and the line of Malkin, James Neal and Chris Kunitz to the inside track for home ice in the opening round of the playoffs.

Fleury received an unexpected night off and while the Maple Leafs kept Malkin - tied for the NHL scoring lead with Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos - in check, the trio of Dupuis, Staal and Steve Sullivan filled in capably.

"I think tonight with that line they really drove our team to the next level," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.

Thiessen wasn't bad either, another promising sign as the Penguins search for a reliable backup. Veteran Brent Johnson has struggled all season and is dealing with an undisclosed injury.

Enter Thiessen, who was solid in his NHL debut against Columbus on Feb. 26, stopping 22 shots to pick up his first career victory, though he was quick to credit Pittsburgh's defense after beating the woeful Blue Jackets.

While the Penguins again limited the number of chances Thiessen faced, he was stellar during the third period, making a series of saves on a late Toronto power play to extend the NHL's longest active winning streak.

"I thought we did a really good job controlling the play early," Thiessen said. "In the third they got some shots and we did the job."

Thiessen's best work came during a flurry on a Toronto power play in which he slid across to deny a one-timer by Kessel.

"I don't think we had the bounces at the end there," Gunnarsson said. "We had one or two chances with a wide open net and they got a stick or a leg on it."

NOTES: Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby skated Wednesday morning. The former MVP missed his 37th straight game because of concussion-like symptoms but has been cleared for contact and could return to the ice as early as next week. ... The Penguins continue their four-game homestand on Friday night against Florida. The Maple Leafs are off until Saturday, when they host Philadelphia. ... Staal has 15 points in 12 games since his return from a knee injury.

scoring summary
1st Period
NONE
2nd Period
01:00
TOR
Phil Kessel (34) Wrist shot - ASST: Jake Gardiner (17), Tyler Bozak (24)
1 - 0 TOR
07:36
TOR
Carl Gunnarsson (4) Tip-in - ASST: Mikhail Grabovski (26), Clarke MacArthur (18)
2 - 0 TOR
09:25
PIT
Pascal Dupuis (16) Tip-in - ASST: Matt Niskanen (16), Jordan Staal (14)
2 - 1 TOR
3rd Period
01:34
PIT
Jordan Staal (22) Tip-in - ASST: Brooks Orpik (13), Pascal Dupuis (23)
2 - 2 Tie
04:10
PIT
Pascal Dupuis (17) Backhand shot - ASST: Steve Sullivan (25), Ben Lovejoy (3)
3 - 2 PIT
penalty summary
1st Period
06:39
TOR
Jay Rosehill  Hi-sticking against  Zbynek Michalek
14:09
TOR
Jay Rosehill  Charging against  Brian Strait
15:15
PIT
James Neal  Slashing against  Tyler Bozak
18:56
PIT
Evgeni Malkin  Hi-sticking against  Dion Phaneuf
20:00
TOR
John-Michael Liles  Hi stick - double minor against  Matt Cooke
2nd Period
00:12
PIT
Jordan Staal  Tripping against  Phil Kessel
3rd Period
13:05
PIT
James Neal  Holding the stick against  Carl Gunnarsson
goalie stats
Jonas Gustavsson
Jonas Gustavsson
17-15-2
SA: 33TOI: 59:08
Saves: 30EV: 26 - 29
PIM: 0PP: 4 - 4
SV%: .909SH: 0 - 0
Brad Thiessen
SA: 24TOI: 60:00
Saves: 22EV: 14 - 16
PIM: 0PP: 7 - 7
SV%: .917SH: 1 - 1