|TOR||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||7|
|PIT||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||3|
The Toronto Maple Leafs' better defensive play was the key to a recent three-game winning streak, but that came to a crashing halt with a poor effort their last time out.
A trip to Pittsburgh might not be the best way to bounce back.
Coming off one of their worst defensive performances in years, the Maple Leafs will try to rebound Saturday when they visit the Penguins, who are fresh off one of their best offensive efforts of the season.
Toronto (12-13-6) has allowed more goals than all but three teams in the NHL, but picked it up during three games from Dec. 8-16, yielding five goals while putting together its longest winning streak this season.
The Leafs' defense took a night off on Thursday, however. Toronto gave up eight goals - its most since allowing 12 in a 1991 loss at Pittsburgh - in an 8-5 defeat at Boston.
The Leafs came back from a 5-1 deficit to get within a goal, but couldn't get a stop when they needed one. Vesa Toskala started and was pulled for Curtis Joseph in the first period, only to come back in the third after Joseph had allowed four goals.
"Obviously we didn't start the way we wanted to," coach Ron Wilson said. "It was obviously a good effort to get back into the game, but when you get down that many goals, it's tough."
The Penguins (17-10-4) only needed one goaltender to get through their latest game, and Marc-Andre Fleury's first start in more than a month went well.
Fleury, who missed five weeks with a groin strain, made 28 saves on 31 shots in a 6-3 win at Atlanta on Thursday.
"He was phenomenal," coach Michel Therrien said. "He made key save after key save. I'm more than pleased with his performance."
Therrien also was pleased with his team's offensive effort. The Penguins have scored at least six goals four times this season, including twice in their last three games.
As usual, NHL points leader Evgeni Malkin was Pittsburgh's main offensive force. He had two goals and two assists, his fourth four-point game this season, to give him 14 points during a seven-game streak.
"Malkin played an outstanding game," Therrien said.
One of Malkin's other four-point games came in the Penguins' first meeting with Toronto. He assisted on all four Pittsburgh goals in a 4-1 victory on Oct. 18 at Mellon Arena.
Malkin has 18 assists in nine career games versus Toronto, and he also registered his first NHL hat trick against the Leafs in a 6-2 victory on Jan. 3.
Toronto doesn't have anything close to the offensive duo of Malkin and Sidney Crosby, who's second to Malkin's 53 points with 46. No Maple Leaf has more than Matt Stajan's 24 points, but they are balanced, with five other players registering at least 19.
One of those players is leading goal scorer Nik Antropov, who notched his 12th in the loss at Boston. Antropov has eight goals and nine assists in 23 career games against Pittsburgh.
Fleury is 5-1-1 with a 2.69 goals-against average in his last seven games against the Leafs.
The Penguins have won four of five against Toronto in Pittsburgh following a seven-game losing streak.
|Feb 14 '09||PIT 2 at TOR 6||J. Blake|
|Jan 31 '09||PIT 4 at TOR 5||J. Blake|
|Dec 20 '08||TOR 7 at PIT 3||N. Hagman|
|Oct 18 '08||TOR 1 at PIT 4||M. Satan|
|M. Van Ryn||17||3||6||9||+2||8||2||0|