A night after the Penguins won their third straight game with a dominating 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars at the Igloo, the skate was on the other foot tonight at the Air Canada Center as the Pens took a step back in a disappointing 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Leafs came out energized right off the bat and took it to the Pens, who didn't have a response until the third period was halfway finished. The Pens were a step slow nearly all night long in the second of back-to-back games. It didn't help that the Penguins' passing was absolutely horrendous. The defense's breakout passing often did nothing but turn the puck right back to the Leafs' defense, and the Pens' forwards did no better, with dozens of passes way off of the mark.
The end line for Dany Sabourin tonight won't look very good in giving up three goals, but he did an admirable job tonight. Toronto had 41 shots on goal, and the only ones they got past Sabourin was a slapper from Mark Bell in which Marc Eaton screened Sabourin, a goal from Jason Blake on a 2-on-0 breakaway, and a deflected goal off of the skate of Nic Antropov. The fourth Leafs' goal was an empty netter by Alexei Ponikarovsky.
It was up in the air if the Pens would get on the scoreboard at all but they finally did when Ryan Malone got credit for the goal on a Colby Armstrong shot on net that deflected off of Malone's leg, or so it appeared.
That definitely appeared to energize the sluggish Pens, who finally started to take the play to the Leafs, who were well into their prevent defense mode by that time. The Pens got another fluky goal with about two minutes to go when Erik Christensen put a shot on goal that took a bunch of bounces on Leafs' goalie Vesa Toskala and landed in the net.
However, the Pens started too late, and with an empty net they came close but empty, as Ponikarovsky finished off the scoring.
To be honest, it was pretty surprising watching the Pens take the first two periods off like that. It sure appeared that the Pens had learned their lesson, but I guess I mistaken.
The Pens are back on the ice Monday at the Igloo as Wayne Gretzky and the Phoenix Coyotes come to town before the Pens embark on their Western Canada trip through Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver.
The Confluence of the Three Rivers