NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, February 14th
(All times eastern)
Pittsburgh Penguins (27-24-5) at Toronto Maple Leafs (20-25-10), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Coming off a successful homestand, the Pittsburgh Penguins
start up a brief stretch of road games with tonight's clash against the
Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.
Pittsburgh just completed a four-game residency with an encouraging shootout
victory over Western Conference power San Jose on Wednesday, the team's third
win on the stand. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury led the way in the 2-1 triumph
by making 36 saves in regulation and overtime, then stopping all three Sharks
skaters he faced in the shootout.
Sidney Crosby recorded the lone goal of the shootout phase when he beat San
Jose netminder Brian Boucher with a wrist shot in the third round. Bill Thomas
scored in regulation for Pittsburgh, which was coming off a shootout loss to
defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit on Sunday.
Despite their recent success, the reigning Eastern Conference champion
Penguins remain on the outside of the playoff picture at the moment. The club
is presently tied with Carolina for 10th place in the East and is five points
back of both Buffalo and Florida, the teams that presently occupy the
conference's final two postseason spots.
Pittsburgh will also be attempting to reverse its recent fortunes on the road,
where it has lost three straight and seven of its last eight outings. That
includes a 5-4 defeat to Toronto at the Air Canada Centre on January 31.
The Penguins will play four of their next five tilts away from the Steel City,
including a matchup with the New York Islanders on Monday.
Toronto has been struggling no matter where the venue as of late. The Leafs
are just 4-8-4 since January 6 and dropped both tests of a recent two-game
swing through Florida, following up an overtime loss to the Panthers with
Thursday's 6-4 setback to Tampa Bay.
Maple Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala was yanked after allowing four goals with
less than 17 minutes elapsed in the game. Curtis Joseph stopped 17-of-19 shots
Lee Stempniak scored two of Toronto's four goals on the evening, with Niklas
Hagman and Nikolai Kulemin also lighting the lamp.
The Leafs will attempt to get back on track with a four-game homestand that
begins tonight. Toronto has lost five of its last six tests as the host,
however, although that lone win did come against the Penguins.
Toronto has also won four of the six most recent matchups in this series,
while Pittsburgh has lost in three of its last four visits to the Air Canada
02/14 10:47:04 ET