For the third time this season, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ sloppy defense betrayed goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and they lost at home. The Penguins are now 0-3 in their new home this season, as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated them, 4-3.
Although the Leafs were held to only 14 shots, terrible lapses by the Penguins defense led to easy scoring chances in which Fleury was left helpless. The Leafs’ Colton Orr scored on a deflection early in the game to give the Leafs a 1-0 lead. The Penguins managed to strike back and take a 2-1 lead at the first intermission.
During the second period, the Penguins’ terrible lapses gave the Leafs easy goals, as they scored three goals on only five shots. Although the Leafs registered only three shots in the second period, their chances were plentiful. Clarke MacArthur one-timed a powerplay goal to the top of the net on Fleury’s glove side as defenseman Tomas Kaberle made a brilliant no-look pass from the left circle to the right circle. MacArthur would later score again to give the Leafs a 4-2 lead.
Sidney Crosby scored his first goal of the season on a brilliant backhander to cut the Leafs’ lead to 4-3 with 46 seconds remaining in the second period.
Jonas Gustavsson was brilliant in goal for the Leafs, as he turned aside 22 of 25 shots. Late in the third, Gustavsson saved a barrage of high-quality shots by Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Mark Letestu to preserve the 4-3 lead and secure the victory. Gustavsson also made a tremendous skate save on a Pascal Dupuis one-timer earlier in the third period. Mikhail Grabovsky, Kaberle, and Nikolai Kulemin especially played well for the Leafs in this game.
Crosby, Malkin, Alex Goligoski, Tyler Kennedy, Max Talbot and Eric Tangradi played well for the Penguins. Talbot scored his first goal of the season tonight and generated multiple scoring chances. Talbot also played well defensively and won battles for loose pucks in the corners and behind the net.
Letestu had several good scoring chances fed to him; unfortunately for the Penguins, he is not NHL material. Letestu is a good skater but his passes are inaccurate, his backchecking is poor, he does not read or react to the plays quickly, and his decision-making is slow.
Defensemen Andrew Hutchinson, Deryk Engelland and Ben Lovejoy played poor defense for the Penguins tonight. The Leafs were able to park their forwards in front of the net and pester Fleury. They were able to make crisp open-ice passes and generate odd-man rushes. Quite simply, the defense played poorly and gave Toronto easy scoring chances.
The Penguins’ injury-riddled defense was without Brooks Orpik and Zbynek Michalek tonight. Jordan Staal and Arron Asham are still injured; however, Staal has resumed skating activities.