TORONTO (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins began a five-game road trip Friday night with a 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. Tonight, they will look to get back into the win column when they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Alex Kovalev began his second stint with the Penguins last night. While the first period left something to be desired, he seemed to settle down and was responsible for numerous scoring opportunities during the final 40 minutes of play.
Pascal Dupuis scored the lone goal for the Penguins when he buried a rebound off a shot by Mike Rupp in the second period.
The loss drops the Penguins to 2-6-2 in their last 10 games, but they still hold a four-point cushion over the Washington Capitals for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
Toronto enters tonight’s contest with a 6-2-2 record in their last 10 games and have won four of their last five. Recently, they’ve traded away Kris Versteeg, Francois Beauchemin and Tomas Kaberle. Despite the big names being dealt, the Maple Leafs are only six points out of a playoff spot.
This will be the third meeting between the two teams this season. Both of the previous games were at the CONSOL Energy Center. Toronto won 4-3 on Oct. 13 and Pittsburgh won 5-2 on Dec. 8.
Leading the way for Toronto is Clarke MacArthur with 46 points (18 goals, 28 assists). Three other Maple Leafs have over 40 points this season: Mikhail Grabovski (24 goals, 20 assists), Phil Kessel (25 goals, 19 assists) and Nikolai Kulemin (21 goals, 21 assists).
Rookie netminder James Reimer has been a big reason for Toronto’s recent surge in the standings.
Reimer is currently 10-4-2 with a 2.24 GAA, .931 save percentage with two shutouts.
Since suffering a regulation loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 5, Reimer is 5-0-2.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere is expected to dress as the backup goaltender tonight and he’s currently nursing a groin injury.
For Pittsburgh, the team welcomed back one of the many injured forwards during Friday’s loss to the Hurricanes.
Dustin Jeffrey missed the previous six games with a knee injury. According to the Penguins’ official website, Mark Letestu and Paul Martin are also very close to returning to the lineup.
Kovalev was paired with James Neal and Jordan Staal on the Penguins’ top line last night. Neal and Matt Niskanen were playing in just their second game with the club since being traded for Alex Goligoski on Monday.
Kovalev enjoys playing the Maple Leafs and has 27 goals and 44 assists in 68 career games against them.
Marc-Andre Fleury (27-16-4, 22.31 GAA, .920 save percentage) was pulled after allowing three goals on 11 shots during Friday’s loss and could get the nod tonight in Toronto.
He is 9-7-2 with a 3.02 GAA and .897 save percentage against the Maple Leafs in his career.
This will be the fifth game in seven nights for the Penguins, who will not play again until Wednesday.
The puck is set to drop at 7 p.m. and can be seen on FSN Pittsburgh.