TORONTO (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins are coming off two straight wins over the New York Islanders and will look to extend their winning streak to six tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
On Thursday, the Penguins trailed the Islanders 2-0 early in the third period. However, goals by Chris Kunitz and James Neal forced the game to overtime.
The Penguins were unable to score on a 4 on 3 power play with about 30 seconds to play in overtime and the game went to a shootout.
In a bizarre turn of events, Rick DiPietro was put into the game for the shootout because Evgeni Nabokov was apparently fatigued.
Evgeni Malkin scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Penguins the extra point in the standings.
The Maple Leafs return home after spoiling the home opener for the New York Rangers Thursday night.
Matthew Lombardi, Joffrey Lupul, Clarke MacArthur and Mike Brown scored for Toronto as they beat the Rangers 4-2.
Tonight’s game will feature the top two goal scorers in the league.
Phil Kessel has seven assists to go along with his league-leading nine goals already.
James Neal is tied with Kessel with nine goals and has 10 points on the year.
The Maple Leafs (6-2-1-13 points) are looking to get back into the playoffs for the first time in the post-lockout era and are off to a hot start to the season.
They enter tonight’s game with a one-point lead over the Buffalo Sabres for the top spot in the Northeast Division.
In goal, James Reimer had been carrying the bulk of the load to start the season. However, he was placed on injured reserve earlier this week after suffering a hit to the head.
The team is calling it whiplash, but he will not play tonight against Pittsburgh.
Reimer is 4-0-1 with a 2.58 GAA and .912 save percentage this season.
It would appear likely that Jonas Gustavsson (2-2, 4.09 GAA, .876 save percentage) would get the nod tonight against the Penguins.
Gustavsson made 28 saves in the win over the Rangers, but is only 1-2 with a 4.01 GAA and .867 save percentage against the Penguins.
The Air Canada Centre has been quite kind to the Penguins over the last two seasons as they have gone 3-0-1 there.
Not to bring up bad memories, but the last time the Penguins lost in Toronto was Feb. 14, 2008. For those keeping track, that was the final game Michel Therrien was the head coach of the Penguins.
Ironically, I was in Toronto that night and their fans were coming up to me and apologizing for the win.
Not one of the better experiences I’ve had while going to games on the road. I’d almost prefer fans yelling obscenities than apologizing for their sub-par team inexplicably demolishing the Pens.
Anyway, Marc-Andre Fleury (7-2, 1.86 GAA, .934 save percentage) seemed like the guy who would get the start in goal tonight, considering the team gets its first extended period of time off this season.
After tonight, the Penguins won’t play until Thursday when they head to San Jose.
Fleury holds a 10-7-3 record with a 3.11 GAA and .892 save percentage against the Maple Leafs in his career.
However, Brent Johnson (1-0-2, 1.92 GAA. .925 save percentage) will be in net. Against Toronto, Johnson is 4-3 with a 3.39 GAA with a .853 save percentage.
While Neal leads the way with 10 points, Pascal Dupuis (three goals, six assists), Kris Letang (one goal, eight assists) and Jordan Staal (six goals, three assists) are all tied with nine.
However, Staal will not play tonight as he is dealing with a lower-body injury he suffered on Thursday.
The puck is set to drop at 7 p.m. and you can watch the game on Root Sports.
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