NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, March 14th
(All times Eastern)
Pittsburgh Penguins (19-8-0) at Toronto Maple Leafs (15-11-1), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - After not playing in Toronto for over three years, Sidney
Crosby will make his second trip to the city in less than a week on Tuesday
when the streaking Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Maple Leafs at Air Canada
Crosby had missed four straight trips to Toronto due to his battles with head
and neck injuries over the previous two seasons. Last Saturday, however,
Pittsburgh's captain made his first appearance at the Air Canada Centre since
January 9, 2010 and aided the Penguins in a 5-4 shootout win.
James Neal and Crosby each scored once in regulation and the shootout to help
Pittsburgh end a three-game losing streak in Toronto. The victory was the
fourth in a row for the Penguins and the Atlantic Division leaders have pushed
that streak to six with recent wins over the New York Islanders and Boston
Crosby leads the NHL with 45 points this season and he has 19 goals and 19
assists in 24 career games against Toronto.
The Pens, who lead the division by seven points over New Jersey, handed
Boston just its fourth regulation defeat of the season in Tuesday's 3-2 home
victory. Brandon Sutter's second goal of the game capped a furious third-
period rally that allowed Pittsburgh to erase an early 2-0 deficit en route to
Trailing by two goals, the Penguins scored three times in just over four
minutes in the final frame to move their winning streak to a season-high six
in a row.
Chris Kunitz got the first goal while Sutter scored the tying and go-ahead
markers, with Marc-Andre Fleury posting 14 stops in the win. Sutter capped the
comeback on his own when he picked off a cross-ice pass at the left point and
skated down to the circle before firing the puck home for a 3-2 lead with 2:03
"As soon as I got the puck I was thinking of passing, but I saw I had the lane
and I was able to take advantage," said Sutter. "It was a great way to finish
Pittsburgh will try to continue its longest winning streak since an 11-game
run from Feb. 21-March 17 of last season and it will have to do so once again
without star centerman Evgeni Malkin. The reigning Hart Trophy winner suffered
an undisclosed injured Saturday in Toronto and is expected to miss a third
straight game on Thursday.
Malkin has five goals and 24 points in 21 games this season.
The Maple Leafs will try to open a three-game homestand on a positive note,
but they'll be facing a Pittsburgh team with a strong 11-4-0 road record this
Toronto, which is 6-5-1 at ACC this year, has lost three straight contests and
has dropped into a tie for sixth in the Eastern Conference playoff standings
with New Jersey. The Maple Leafs are currently mired in the longest postseason
drought in club history, having not qualified for the playoffs since the
spring of 2004.
The Maple Leafs suffered their most recent loss Tuesday in Winnipeg. Blake
Wheeler had two goals to help the Jets post an easy 5-2 victory at MTS Centre.
Phil Kessel scored a pair of goals for the Maple Leafs, who are on their
longest skid of the season. James Reimer stopped 24-of-28 shots before being
pulled in the third period. Ben Scrivens made five saves in relief.
"We'll regroup and reset our group and go forward," Leafs head coach Randy
Toronto last lost four in a row during an 0-4-1 slide from March 6-13 of last
03/14 10:52:25 ET