Similar to the last game between these two teams, tonight's was a high-scoring affair as well. Instead of a combined effort though, it was entirely on the Leafs' part.
Had you watched the first two periods of this game, you would have had difficulty predicting 5-2 as the final score. Both teams came in to the third period tied at one, but the Leafs came out of intermission firing to a quick 3-1 lead. Before the 9 minute mark, it was 5-1.
I feel this is one of those games where you just ask yourself, "Where did they go wrong?" The defense was doing a great job, Fleury was looking pretty sharp and the offense was doing what they needed to stay in the game. Of course, you'd love to see the offense pull away with it early, but in a 1-1 tie you also don't want to get too over zealous.
Suddenly, out of nowhere I might add, the team started to turn over the puck in their own zone, fan on shots, lack all motivation on the powerplay and just looked like they were asleep on the ice. Not to mention, Gonchar almost cost the team a shorthanded goal earlier in the game when he mishandled and lost his balance on the blueline. Luckily, Fleury made a tremendous save to keep the puck out.
Toskala was strong in net for the Leafs, especially on the powerplay as he dodged the re-directs and cleaned out the garbage in front. With 5:09 left in the game, that would change. A Gonchar blast hit the mark on a 5-3 powerplay, to put the score at 5-2. The Pens tried to muster up another PP attack in the remaining five on four powerplay but failed to put enough shots on to do any damage. Regardless, the powerplay conversion puts the Penguins at 10 consecutive games with a goal on the man advantage.
A scary moment for the Penguins in the first period when Maxime Talbot went face first in to the boards as he hussled down for the icing call. After lying on the ice holding his head in obvious pain, like a true hockey player he walked to the dressing room under his own power. Talbot would later sit out the rest of the game.
Can't complain about this one; the Leafs won the game fair and square. Fleury didn't look bad in net, and I'll still give him my support for the next start against the Canadiens. On the other hand, the offense is going to have to pick up the pace. Again, the Penguins are not an overly defensive team. They rely heavily on offensive production to win their games. When the offense doesn't show up to the game, neither does the defense. On a normal night the Penguins' best defense IS their offense, which unfortunately cost them the game tonight. Of course that was not the case in the recent shutout against the Rangers, but that was also not a normal night.
I will say that the Penguins played a more disciplined game as far as penalties go. The Pens only took three penalties on the night, but the PK unit allowed the Leafs to convert once in the third period. On the other side, the Penguins were 1-6 on PP attempts. The Leafs continued to show why they are amongst the league's leader in penalty minutes.
With tonight's loss the Penguins drop to 5-4 on the season. Their next game is Saturday against Montreal where they hope to take one more at home before a four game field trip.
Crosby from Malkin-Recchi
Gonchar from Crosby-Malkin PPG
Fleury - 22-27