The Pittsburgh Penguins were missing Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jeff Carter, Bryan Rust, and Kris Letang for Saturday night’s home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. No problem. Drew O’Connor scored two goals and the Penguins obliterated the Maple Leafs in a 7-1 romp.
Penguins defenceman Marcus Pettersson finished with one goal and two assists in the rout. Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry stopped 28 of 29 shots but was not seriously tested throughout the game.
After a flat performance in Friday’s 5-3 loss at home, the Toronto Maple Leafs should have been primed to respond with a big effort in Pittsburgh Saturday night. This was, however, an embarrassing performance.
The scoring begins
Drew O’Connor got the Penguins on the board at 11:53 of the first period, with a point shot deflecting off his hip and past Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell.
51 seconds later, Jason Spezza notched the equalizer for the Maple Leafs, making the most of good pressure created by linemates Pierre Engvall and Wayne Simmonds.
The second period was Toronto’s worst of the season.
At 1:38 of the second period, Penguins defenceman Mike Matheson scored on a wrap-around, a goal. Goaltender Jack Campbell should not have allowed the goal but the Maple Leafs defence should not have allowed the opportunity either.
The Maple Leafs barely had time to be deflated by that goal when Penguins winger Jason Zucker scored 15 seconds later. Zucker took advantage of a Toronto turnover in neutral ice. Zucker’s shot deflected off Maple Leafs defenceman Timothy Liljegren.
Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe called timeout in an effort to calm the troops but it had little effect.
Drew O’Connor scored his second goal of the game, and third of his NHL career, banking a pass off Maple Leafs defenceman Jake Muzzin and into the net at 11:01 of the second period.
The snowball kept rolling downhill on the Maple Leafs. Penguins defenceman Marcus Pettersson jumped into a rush and buried one top shelf to give the Penguins a commanding 5-1 lead at 13:59 of the second period.
The Maple Leafs pulled goaltender Jack Campbell after the second period, after he allowed five goals on 21 shots through the first two periods. Michael Hutchinson came into the game to give Campbell a break.
The finishing touches
The third period brought more of the same misery for the Maple Leafs. Just 20 seconds into the third period, veteran centre Brian Boyle snapped a shot home. You know, just in case the Maple Leafs had designs on making the game respectable in the third period.
At 2:24 of the third period, Evan Rodrigues – Pittsburgh’s No. 1 centre for this game – scored a power play goal to put a finishing touch on the scoring.
Pittsburgh moves to 3-0-2 on the season, an excellent start given the high quality players missing from their lineup.
The Maple Leafs are 2-3-1 through six games and winless in the past three games. Toronto heads to Carolina to take on the Hurricanes Monday. The Hurricanes have won four straight to open the season.
Alexander Kerfoot, David Kampf, Jake Muzzin, and Justin Holl have been on the ice for four goals against tonight in Pittsburgh. Still 25 minutes to go!#Leafs
— Scott Cullen (@ByScottCullen) October 24, 2021
More analysis of this debacle and quotes from media availability coming to ToHN shortly.
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