TORONTO (KDKA/AP) — Entering Saturday’s game at the Air Canada Centre, the Penguins’ James Neal and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Phil Kessel were tied for the league lead in goals.
By the end of the night though, not only did the Leafs’ come out on top with a 4-3 victory in a back and forth game, but it was Kessel whose 10th goal of the season not only held up as the game-winner but also pushed him past Neal in the standings.
Mikhail Grabovski, Tim Connolly and Clarke MacArthur also scored for Toronto.
Matt Cooke, Chris Kunitz and Malkin scored for the Penguins (8-3-2), who were playing for the 13th time in 26 days. The Pens were also without several stars as Jordan Staal is sidelined with a lower-body injury, Sidney Crosby continues to recover from a concussion and starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury sat out.
Backup Brent Johnson had 25 saves in the loss, while Toronto’s Jonas Gustavsson made 34 saves and picked up wins in consecutive appearances for the first time since March of 2010.
MacArthur’s second goal of the season put the Maple Leafs ahead 3-2 at 3:08 of the third period before Malkin tied it with a one-timer during a 5-on-3 power play at 7:59.
Malkin had a tough start to the game though as he was in the penalty box for Toronto’s first two goals. Grabovski tipped home a point shot by Dion Phaneuf at 11:31 of the first period.
After Cooke tied the score at 10:21 of the second, Connolly knocked home a rebound for his first goal with the Leafs a little more than a minute later to put Toronto back ahead.
Kunitz scored on the power play to tie the score again with 4:54 left in the second period.
Once Kessel put the Leafs ahead again in the third, Gustavsson made sure they wouldn’t squander another one-goal advantage. He came rushing out of the net and stacked the pads to deny Neal with less than five minutes to play.
The Penguins get a long break before heading to the West Coast for games late next week against the San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings.
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