Crosby's Late Goal Lifts Pens Over Leafs

The Canadian Press | Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:47 AM

PITTSBURGH - The steady stream of bold-faced names heading to injured reserve shows no signs of abating for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Thankfully for the Penguins, neither is Sidney Crosby.

Crosby's 19th goal of the season broke a tie with just over 6 minutes remaining and Pittsburgh edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 on Monday night for their fourth straight victory.

Chris Conner and Brandon Sutter also scored for the Penguins, who were playing without a number of regulars, including forward Evgeni Malkin.

"We keep finding ways," Crosby said. "A lot has to do with the way the (new guys) are playing."

Pittsburgh took the ice with a handful of players who have spent the majority of the season at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League and only one defenceman - Matt Niskanen - with more than one year of NHL experience.

It hardly mattered on a night the Penguins kept the speedy Maple Leafs in check. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 25 shots for Pittsburgh to improve to 27-3 in his past 30 home starts. Pittsburgh has won four straight and nine of 10.

"It's a pretty unique situation," Niskanen said. "One rookie and five young guys playing. ... These guys have been coming up and playing with confidence and doing a good job. That's exciting for the organization."

Morgan Rielly scored the first goal of his career for the Maple Leafs. Jonathan Bernier made 28 saves, but couldn't stop Toronto from losing for the fourth time in its past five games.

"We just weren't sharp," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said.

The Penguins have a firm grip on the top of the Metropolitan Division despite a series of injuries to high-profile players.

Kris Letang joined fellow defenceman Brooks Orpik (concussion), Paul Martin (broken leg) and Rob Scuderi (broken ankle) on the IR Monday with an upper-body injury of his own, forcing coach Dan Bylsma to get creative with his pairings.

Rookie Philip Samuelsson, whose father Ulf won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Penguins in the early 1990s, made his NHL debut against the Maple Leafs. The younger Samuelsson received a quick lesson from his teammates on the level of expectation from Brian Dumoulin, playing in just the second game of his career.

Dumoulin helped give the Penguins a quick 1-0 lead, collecting the puck near the point then firing it on net, allowing Conner to jab it by Bernier for his third goal of the season 39 seconds into the game.

The tally seemed to embolden Pittsburgh, which controlled play for long stretches in the first period, keeping Bernier busy while the defence did a fine job of neutralizing Toronto's speedy counterattack.

The Maple Leafs tied it 6:03 into the second as Rielly, the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft, skated through the Pittsburgh zone and beat Fleury over the goaltender's right shoulder for the highly regarded defenceman's first career goal.

The power-play score ended the Penguins' streak of 18 consecutive penalty kills, though the score had less to do with any kind of breakdown and more to do with Rielly's wicked wrist shot.

Toronto kept the pressure on well into the third period, but Pittsburgh regained control after killing off an illegal check to the head penalty on Robert Bortuzzo, who levelled Maple Leaf forward Jerry D'Amigo during a collision near centre ice. The 6-foot-4 defenceman, who has struggled to crack the lineup, shook off the penalty and even picked up his first point of the season on Crosby's winner.

The Maple Leafs won the draw deep in their zone but Bortuzzo knocked down the clearing attempt then fed the puck up the wall to Pascal Dupuis, who slipped a quick pass to Crosby between the circles.

"There was a lot of room there," Crosby said. "(Dupuis) made a great pass on my tape and I found the back of the net.

Sutter's short-handed empty-net goal with 3 seconds left sealed it and the Penguins remained hot while the Maple Leafs couldn't back up a promising 7-3 romp over defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago on Saturday night.

"We were a little inconsistent, but we did do some good things," Toronto's Dion Phaneuf said. "We've got to capitalize on the power play and do some things better."

NOTES: Toronto finished 1 of 5 on the power play. ... The Penguins are 13-1 when leading after the first period. ... Pittsburgh has won eight straight games at Consol Energy Center. ... The Maple Leafs begin a three-game homestand on Tuesday against Florida. ... Pittsburgh forward Jason Megna left with a lower body injury and did not return. He is not expected to play Wednesday when the Penguins face the Rangers in New York.

Scoring Summary
1st Period
00:39PIT Chris Conner (3) ASST: Brian Dumoulin (1), Joe Vitale (9) 1 - 0 PIT
2nd Period
06:03TOR PPG - Morgan Rielly (1) ASST: Cody Franson (15), Jonathan Bernier (1) 1 - 1 Tie
3rd Period
13:57PIT Sidney Crosby (19) ASST: Pascal Dupuis (12), Robert Bortuzzo (1) 2 - 1 PIT
19:56PIT SHG - EN - Brandon Sutter (6) ASST: NONE 3 - 1 PIT
Three Stars of the Game
Sidney Crosby
Sidney Crosby
G: 1Shots: 2
A: 0Hits: 0
PTS: 1PIM: 2
+/-: 1TOI: 22:07
Marc-Andre Fleury
Marc-Andre Fleury
SA: 26TOI: 60:00
GA: 1EV: 19-19
PIM: 0PP: 6-7
SV%: .962SH: 0-0
Matt Niskanen
Matt Niskanen
G: 0Shots: 5
A: 0Hits: 3
PTS: 0PIM: 2
+/-: 1TOI: 25:39
Penalty Summary
1st Period
06:31PIT Brian Dumoulin  Tripping against  Nikolay Kulemin
15:06PIT Robert Bortuzzo  Fighting (maj) against  Troy Bodie
15:06TOR Troy Bodie  Fighting (maj) against  Robert Bortuzzo
2nd Period
04:38PIT Matt Niskanen  Roughing against  Nazem Kadri
10:45TOR Troy Bodie  Fighting (maj) against  Zach Sill
10:45PIT Zach Sill  Fighting (maj) against  Troy Bodie
14:29PIT Sidney Crosby  Roughing against  Nazem Kadri
18:27TOR Dion Phaneuf  Unsportsmanlike conduct against  Harry Zolnierczyk
18:27PIT Harry Zolnierczyk  Unsportsmanlike conduct against  Dion Phaneuf
3rd Period
02:07TOR Jake Gardiner  Hooking against  Jayson Megna
10:19PIT Robert Bortuzzo  Illegal Check To Head against  Jerry D'Amigo
18:55PIT Chris Kunitz  Tripping against  Nazem Kadri
shots by period
Team Stats
Power Plays1/50/1
Faceoff Wins3243
Blocked Shots916
Penalty Minutes1422
3D. PhaneufD00-20225:42
4C. FransonD01-11019:26
11J. McClementC00-12017:41
12M. RaymondL00-12017:46
19J. LupulL00-21016:41
21J. van RiemsdykL00-25022:27
23T. SmithC000005:56
24P. HollandC00-10016:18
26J. LilesD00-11014:17
29J. D'AmigoR0002013:30
36C. GunnarssonD00-11020:33
38F. McLarenL000003:12
40T. BodieR0000103:10
41N. KuleminL00-10017:01
43N. KadriC00-10020:47
44M. RiellyD1003019:04
51J. GardinerD00-13221:20
81P. KesselR00-15022:13
45J. Bernier2830.93358:56
2M. NiskanenD0015225:39
3O. MaattaD0013024:17
8B. DumoulinD0121218:08
9P. DupuisR0111019:47
12C. KobasewR000008:27
14C. KunitzL0011221:25
16B. SutterC1022018:29
23C. ConnerR1012011:37
27C. AdamsR0011015:15
36J. JokinenL0004013:31
38Z. SillC000159:44
39H. ZolnierczykL0002210:02
41R. BortuzzoD0122717:54
46J. VitaleC0112012:45
47S. DespresD0001018:37
55P. SamuelssonD0000015:43
59J. MegnaC000106:03
87S. CrosbyC1012222:07
29M. Fleury2526.96260:00