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Maple Leafs Rake Penguins – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Maple Leafs Rake Penguins

In the wake of last night’s 5-3 loss to Toronto, there’s good news and bad news to report.

First, the good news. Snake-bitten sniper Phil Kessel snapped a 10-game scoring drought with his 23rd goal of the season.

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The bad news? The Penguins leaked for three goals in the final 5:30 to lose in come-from-in-front fashion.

“Obviously they needed the game a lot more than we did, so they came out hard and they got a couple of good breaks,” Kessel said. “It is what it is.”

Indeed, while the Maple Leafs needed a victory to clinch their first playoff berth since 2013, the black and gold—having wrapped up home ice for the first round of the playoffs—had little to play for. A fact punctuated by a cluster of lineup changes.

Hoping to give some of his troops a much-needed breather in advance of back-to-back games and the upcoming playoffs, Mike Sullivan rested regulars Nick Bonino, Brian Dumoulin, Patric Hornqvist and Bryan Rust, along with super-sub Chad Ruhwedel.

The Pens’ skipper plugged the gaps with Cameron Gaunce, Tom Sestito, Mark Streit and Baby Pens call-ups Kevin Porter and Dominik Simon.

Sad to say, it showed. Although they led for a good portion of the game thanks to goals by Kessel, Sidney Crosby and first-year wonder Jake Guentzel, the Pens mustered a paltry 18 shots on goal in support of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, making his first appearance between the pipes following a 10-day layoff.

Still, our boys almost carried the day, holding a 3-2 lead until the 14:30 mark of the third period. In an ironic twist of fate, former first-round pick Kasperi Kapanen—shipped north of the border in the Kessel deal—ignited the Leafs’ rally.

Scarcely a minute after the locals killed a cross-checking penalty to Streit, Toronto mega-rookie Auston Matthews darted behind the Pens’ net and fed Matt Hunwick to the side of the cage. With Fleury hugging the post, Hunwick dished a Crosby-esque pass through the slot to Kapanen, who’d slipped below the right circle and escaped the detection of veteran Matt Cullen. The 20-year-old winger ripped the puck home for his first NHL goal.

“Obviously it was something special,” Kapanen said. “Can’t be a better time to score than to tie it up against your old club. It feels pretty good.”

Kapanen’s timely tally stole the thunder from Kessel, who’d beaten Toronto starter Frederik Andersen with a rapier-like shot to the stick side six minutes into the contest. A marker that brought a broad smile to the face of the expatriate Leaf, to say nothing of some emotional relief.

“I think you always smile when you score a goal, don’t you?” quipped the affable winger.

Too bad the Leafs had to go and spoil things. With a shade under three minutes remaining and Nazem Kadri providing a perfect screen in front, Connor Brown deflected Jake Gardiner’s shot from the point into the upper part of the net. Fleury had no chance.

Matthews tacked on an empty-netter in the waning seconds with a rocket from center ice for his 40th goal of the season, moving him into a tie for second place behind Crosby in the race for the Maurice Richard Trophy and eclipsing Sid’s rookie mark of 39 goals.

Not the ending Pens fans would’ve hoped for.

Puckpourri

The Penguins outhit Toronto, 32-13. The Leafs won 54 percent of the draws.

Crosby’s goal—his 44th of the season—virtually assured him of the Richard Trophy. He’s four goals up on his nearest competition with one game to play. Sid trails Edmonton’s Connor McDavid by nine points in the race for the scoring title.

With five goals in his past five games, Guentzel’s been on fire since returning from a concussion on March 31. Jake leads all NHL rookies with an average of 3.12 points per 60 minutes. His points per game average (0.83) ranks third among first-year pros, behind Matthews and Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine.

Andersen left the game two minutes into the second period after colliding with Sestito in the crease. Although the big Pens winger received an interference penalty, the contact appeared to be unintentional. Curtis McElhinney finished the game in net to earn the victory for Toronto.

Fleury made 25 saves for the Penguins.

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9 Comments

  1. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    April 10, 2017 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Hi Rick,
    First day of the new season. From the NHL.com this morning.
    As the old boxing reference goes…”by the Tape”.

    Pens are 1 st in goals for at 3.39 —- Jackets are 6th at 3.012 goals scored.

    Pens are17 th in goals against at 2.79 — Jackets are 2nd at 2.35 goals against.

    Pens are 4th on the Power play at 23.1 % — CBJ are 12th at 19.9 % on the PP.

    Pens are 20 th on the Penalty Kill at 79.8 % — CBJ are 9th at 82.5 % on the PK.

    Pens are 28th on Face offs out of 30 teams and CBJ are 20th on Face offs.

    For me the drop in the PK numbers and conversely face off numbers are of concern. Previous Pens teams owned the PK department.

    Should be fun.
    Cheers….

  2. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    April 9, 2017 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Hi Rick,
    A viewpoint from up North. As predicted the game was fast, relatively clean and end to end.Indeed fun to watch. Fleury stops 25 shots ?? To me it really seemed much more than that as Toronto had many excellent scoring chances and MAF robbed them. One goal was his fault, the rest was the team in front of him.He played very well and if this is MAF last regular season game as a Penguin, I am pleased how he performed. He still is a remarkable goalie.
    ( My local friends have told me so after watching the game last night.)
    To my friends south of the border, last night in Canada was special.It was the last Saturday Night of the regular season of HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA ! It has been a 60 year tradition here and to every Canadian born Hockey player, playing in Toronto on the last night on National Television is a kid’s dream come true. That is why Crosby would never miss playing last night so that his fans Coast to Coast could watch him. He too did not disappoint. A beautiful goal scored….One shot that the goalie was in the right place at the right time and it has been a hi-lite reel all day on the various sports shows…and a great feed to Jake G. who botched the open net for a sure goal… ( The anxiety of playing in front of 24,000 screaming fans and another 6- 8 million watching at home.) He will be teased about that missed shot for the rest of his career !!
    Not to worry. His speed and skill level was mentioned several times last night and he made quite an impression on our National audience. The media were comparing him favorably to some of their star rookie players. He is a keeper.
    Final point. Toronto has 7 rookies and 2-3 second year players on their roster. Of the top 10 rookies in points in the league as of last night, 5 of them played in a Maple Leaf Jersey last night. ( That is a nice problem to have.)
    At the start of the season last September nobody expected them to play in the post season. This is year 3 of their complete rebuild and it was expected to take 5 years to make their team competitive. So for my local friends who love hockey they are excited to have Ottawa,Montreal,Toronto,Calgary and Edmonton playing in the post season. As a Pen’s fan I am really alone now.
    For me,I am so glad come midnight tonight the foolishness of the regular season is finally behind us…..AND NOW WE CAN SEE SOME REAL HOCKEY !

    Sweet 16 … How high can we go ??? I am really glad Tampa is out !
    Prediction …First round…. Pens in 6 !!

    Cheers.

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      April 9, 2017 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      Hey Jim,

      Toronto has done a remarkable job turning their game around to say the least.

      I hear you about TB, I am glad that they are out. Not sure I would want another go round with them like last year, should the Pens make it that far.

      “How high can we go?” you ask. I don’t know. I worry about our D and their in ability to clear their own zone rapidly, allowing teams way too much zone time. However, With CBJ on a down swing at the wrong time of the year and Was with a huge monkey on its back, I may be willing to entertain a conference finals as is. For the team to go past that, they will need to learn how to play team D.

      I would prefer the Pens in 5 against CBJ but sitting too long in the playoffs is no good, so from both; a practical can it be done perspective and a what would I like to see perspective 6 games sounds good to me.

      One of these days I am going to have to take a road trip to see a game in a Canadian rink to appreciate the view you just gave us. It would be great to see the game where it began.

      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        April 9, 2017 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

        Hi Coach
        Funny you want to see a game in Toronto or Montreal and before I leave this world I want to see a game at PPG arena. ( PPG is a terrible name for a Hockey venue.Bring back the Igloo or even Melon, or Consol..anything but PPG.It sounds like a medical procedure..sorry I am ranting.)
        Your concern for the d corps is shared by myself as well. Daley ,Schultz and Streit are going to be tested for sure. Cole is the only one I completly trust given his reliability . Reading some info out of Toronto and they said Washington took out the rookie d man for Columbus last week, their leading point getter on defense and now they have been struggling to compensate. ??
        We are just as vulnerable I am afraid to say.
        We should defeat the Jackets in 6 games , but at what price?
        Looks like Sid has his Richard Trophy because the Lighting are almost finished the second period and
        Kucherov? has not scored.
        Here is to the second season.
        Jim

        ..

        • Jim's Gravatar Jim
          April 9, 2017 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

          Hey guys
          Crosby has won the Richard Trophy. Way to go Sidney.
          Kucherov is done at 40 goals.
          Marchand as well.
          Only Matthews is still playing and
          he will need to score 5 goals
          against Columbus in the 3rd period to win.
          Columbus leads 3 to 2 at the end of the second period and Columbus out shot Toronto 20 to 8 in the second.
          Looks pretty safe to me.☺

        • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
          April 10, 2017 at 9:14 am | Permalink

          Hey Jim,

          Maybe next season we can work out a home and home, maybe I can get some time off when the Pens are playing Mon or Tor and we catch a game there and then I get us tickets for us at a game here.

          • Jim's Gravatar Jim
            April 10, 2017 at 10:36 am | Permalink

            That is not a bad idea Coach. 🙂
            We will talk about it on the off season.
            Maybe Rick and few others will come too.
            Cheers

            PS: Ottawa is 90 minutes away from Montreal and
            Toronto is 4 hours from Ottawa. So if you were going to make a trip like that,I would insure at least 2 games for you, possibly 3 ? Meet you in Montreal for a Friday night game, Saturday night in Ottawa and finally Sunday night in Toronto and fly home Monday am from Pearson Airport. It is do able. Plus I have family in Ottawa with connections to the Senator’s organization. Free !!

            • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
              April 10, 2017 at 10:43 am | Permalink

              That sounds excellent!

  3. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    April 9, 2017 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rick,

    To me the first thing is that Toronto did not beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, they almost lost to the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, that’s the good news (In my mind, anyway). Despite having all those highly tauted rookies and Calder hopefuls Toronto found themselves scrambling in the Third Period to beat WBS.

    Second, although I had been posthletizing the resting of veterans, this was hardly the time to rest veterans. There was only two games left, now one, to get into playoff gear.

    Third, I felt bad for MAF for backstopping that game. Although, those WBS kids gave a fair account of themselves. That game may have been MAF’s last regular season game as a Pen unless they let him play tonight and if it this MAF’s last seaon in the ‘burgh I would rather see his last game be a gem rather than a feeding to the sharks while all of the big boys rested.

    Fourth, Sundqvist, Dea, and Pouliot were recalled for this last game, does that mean even more Pens are going to sit, or is there some strategy being played out that will allow the Pens more flexibility with call-ups during the play-offs?Or Maybe a reward for some of those kids for a great job in WBS this year?

    Fifth, I was glad to see Sestito get more than 2 or 3 shifts. It was unfortunate that he hit Anderson like he did. In real time and the couple of replays I watched, I don’t think it was intentional, it looked more like he was just trying to get between the D and the G but Anderson didn’t see him and got the brunt of it. Although, if it had been the other way around I may still be looking at the replay, looking for something to complain about.

    Lastly, Shots Against, Face-Offs? ’nuff said!


            

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