Toronto — Coming off a divisional win in Philadelphia Thursday night, Pittsburgh put on a dominating performance tonight beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 at the Air Canada Center.
Pittsburgh’s “Big Three” came up big with Sidney Crosby netting two goals, Evgeni Malkin adding three assists and goaltender Marc Andre Fleury did what he needed to do making 18 saves to improve to 4-0 on the season.
The win was the Penguins fourth on the season while the Leafs continue to look for their first win of the year.
Pittsburgh had their way with the Leafs and were clearly the superior team. Toronto GM Brian Burke made a number of personnel moves this summer to improve the organization. The moves have the potential to pay dividends in the future but the theme of the Leafs continue; lack of discipline, inability to score goals and poor goaltending.
Through the first five games of the season the Penguins are clearly a tougher team to play against than they were at the start of last season.
Since last February, Penguins General Manager Ray Shero has added Michael Rupp, Craig Adams, Bill Guerin, and Jay McKee which has given the Penguins the ability to match up against physical teams like the Flyers and Leafs.
Pittsburgh played extremely well in the neutral zone. In Dan Bylsma’s system that is where they have the potential to create a lot of turnovers and the Penguins were aggressive and opportunistic tonight.
The Leafs turned the puck over a number of times in bad areas and Pittsburgh used their speed to exploit the Leafs on the attack.
*Jay McKee had his finest game in a Penguins uniform. The way he played tonight was why Ray Shero was among the first teams to contact McKee when he was boughtout by the St. Louis Blues. McKee led the Penguins with 7 blocked shots tonight and might have a saved a goal or two.
*Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin showed good chemistry for the second consecutive game. The best case scenario for the Penguins moving forward is for Staal to establish himself as a regular with Malkin. The two forwards connected again tonight as Malkin caused a turnover in the offensive zone and found Staal wide open in the slot who beat Vesa Toskala glove side.
*Sidney Crosby has looked like Ronnie Francis in the face-off circle this season. Crosby was dominate again tonight going 17-for-25. He’s establishing himself as one of the games best in the face-off circle.
*The Penguins were 3-for-3 on the power play. Sergei Gonchar has shown no signs of slowing down and has been the catalyst for the Penguins. The puck movement was phenomenal tonight.
*Matt Cooke netted his 1st goal of the season at 3:20 of the first period. 100th of his career.
*1. Sidney Crosby – 2 PPG (4)
*2. Sergei Gonchar – 1 goal, 1 assist
*3. Evgeni Malkin – 3 assists
PIT: 3:20 Matt Cooke
Assists: Tyler Kennedy
PIT: 10:23 Sergei Gonchar (Power Play)
Assists: Chris Kunitz, Ruslan Fedotenko
TOR: 2:01 Jay Rosehill
Assists: Jamal Mayers, Rickard Wallin
PIT: 2:32 Sidney Crosby (Power Play)
Assists: Evgeni Malkin, Bill Guerin
PIT: 14:31 Sidney Crosby (Power Play)
Assists: Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar
TOR: 1:01 Niklas Hagman
Assists: Rickard Wallin, Luke Schenn
PIT: 2:08 Jordan Staal
Assists: Evgeni Malkin
Next Game: @ Ottawa 10/12/09