The Toronto Maple Leafs have won 10 of their past 11 games heading into Saturday night’s matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Toronto is 12-5-1, in second place in the Atlantic Division.
In the past five games, all victories, the Maple Leafs have allowed just six goals. Their improved commitment to defensive play has helped. It has also helped that goaltender Jack Campbell has a league-leading .944 save percentage.
Toronto’s power play has also improved its production during this hot streak.
The Maple Leafs forward group will remain the same against Pittsburgh but there is a change coming on defence.
Timothy Liljegren, who has been a healthy scratch for the past two games, gets back into the lineup. He will replace Travis Dermott. Although he has just one assist in 10 games this season, Liljegren has been very effective. With him on the ice during 5-on-5 play, the Maple Leafs have controlled 53.9% of shot attempts and 61.0% of expected goals.
John Tavares (8 G, 8 A) and William Nylander (7 G, 9 A) are tied for the Maple Leafs’ scoring lead through 18 games.
Ritchie – Matthews – Marner
Kerfoot – Tavares – Nylander
Engvall – Kampf – Kase
Bunting – Spezza – Simmonds
Rielly – Brodie
Muzzin – Holl
Sandin – Liljegren
The Pittsburgh Penguins are 6-6-4 through 16 games which puts them in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins had lost three straight games before crushing Montreal 6-0 on Thursday.
The Penguins have had a lot of injuries to overcome already this season but are mostly healthy now. Evgeni Malkin does remain out as he rehabs from knee surgery.
As a result, some unexpected names are leading the way offensively. Jake Guentzel (6 G, 8 A), Evan Rodrigues (6 G, 5 A), Kris Letang (1 G, 9 A), and Kasperi Kapanen (4 G, 6 A) are the four Penguins to reach double digits in points through 16 games.
Sidney Crosby scored his first goal of the season at Montreal. He has two points (1 G, 1 A) in four games.
Here are expected lines for the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday:
Guentzel – Crosby – Rust
Zucker – Carter – Kapanen
Aston-Reese – Blueger – McGinn
Heinen – Rodrigues – Simon
Dumoulin – Letang
Pettersson – Marino
Matheson – Ruhwedel
Toronto -157 vs. Pittsburgh
While the Penguins have to be feeling good coming off their win at Montreal, they have been an inconsistent bunch, so this is not a bad price for a Maple Leafs team that has won 10 of its past 11 games. Toronto has also been sound defensively, and Jack Campbell has been outstanding in goal, so the under makes some sense, too.
Watch on TSN and listen on Sportsnet 590 The Fan in Toronto.