Penguins Crumble Leafs


Mar 9, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Pittsburgh Penguins left wing James Neal (18) celebrates his goal with center Evgeni Malkin (71) right wing Beau Bennett (19) and defenseman Kris Letang (58) and defenseman Matt Niskanen (22) against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. The Penguins beat the Maple Leafs 5-4 in the shootout. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Extending their winning streak to four games, the Pittsburgh Penguins finished off the red-hot Toronto Maple Leafs in a shootout 5-4 Saturday night.

Scoring the first goal of the contest once again, Pittsburgh would get into another one of their high-scoring teeter-tottering games.

But after each team failed to end the game during regulation and in overtime, Pens forwards James Neal and Sidney Crosby iced it with two shootout tallies to Toronto’s none.

Pittsburgh now improves their record to 17-8-0 (34 points) and remain second in the Eastern Conference standings sitting two points behind the Montreal Canadiens (36 points).

Marc-Andre Fleury was between the pipes again for Pittsburgh and he stopped 22 of the 26 shots he faced.  In 18 starts, Fleury has compiled a 12-5-0 record, while averaging 2.71 goals a game and a .902 save percentage.

He sits one game away from Montreal’s goaltender Carey Price for the NHL lead in wins for goalies.

Crosby kept his point streak going from six to seven Saturday after he potted the Pens second goal of the game 14:31 into the second period.

It would be his only point, but Crosby remains ahead of Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos for the NHL lead in in that category with 40 (12G, 28A).

Stamkos scored and assisted Saturday night against Montreal to bring the lead to just three now.

Neal and Paul Martin each had a goal and a helper, while Pascal Dupuis did his part by giving the Pens their fourth goal 13:01 into the second.

Beau Bennett, Evgeni Malkin, Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik each had one assist in the game as well.

Defenseman Kris Letang continues to put on a Norris-type season.

With two assists in Saturday nights contest, Letang now has 24 points (3G, 21A) and sits first in the NHL under that category for defenseman with a five point edge over St. Louis’ defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

Letang keeps pushing his game to new heights year-after-year.  It’s definitely going to be interesting to see what Pittsburgh decides to due with Letang this summer, who like Malkin, will need an extension.

Malkin is being reported to have suffered an upper-body injury resulting from a hard James van Riemsdyk hit during the third period which caused him to miss the late minutes of the third period, overtime and the shootout.

Head coach Dan Bylsma said that he kept Malkin out as precaution – according to Michelle Crechiolo of the Pens’ website:

"“He wasn’t sitting out because of his play.  Just an upper-body injury.  Just kept him out the rest of the game there and overtime and shootout … He’ll certainly be re-evaluated.  In the game, it was more precautionary than anything at that point in time.”"

The Penguins can be satisfied with just getting the win, but they can’t be content with allowing four goals again.

Fact is – Pittsburgh has allowed 27 goals in the last six games – not good.

Granted the majority of the teams they surrendered those tallies to had dynamic offenses, but if the Penguins want to drink from the cup at the end of the season, the baseball scores need to start being contained.

Sunday night will be a test on Pittsburgh’s ability to control opposition scoring, as they will see talented forward John Tavares and the New York Islanders come into the CONSOL Energy Center.

Game starts at 7 p.m.