Lose one, win one. This one was a slow game. Back and forth it goes.
- Wins: 23
- losses: 26
- shootout wins: 3
- shootout losses: 3
- points: 50
Leafs end Penguins’ streak with 1-0 win
Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 12:07 AM
TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t let the memory of a victory that slipped away 24 hours earlier haunt them on Wednesday night.
Clarke MacArthur’s goal with 6:05 left in regulation gave Toronto a 1-0 victory against Pittsburgh, ending the Penguins’ eight-game winning streak and earning the Leafs a measure of revenge for a painful loss 24 hours earlier.
MacArthur took a quick pass from Mikhail Grabovski, who had drawn two Penguins to him, went around Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson and put backhanded his 16th of the season into the wide-open net. MacArthur now has four goals in his past three games and is edging closer to his second straight 20 goal season.
More important, Toronto moved into seventh place in the East after earning three out of a possible four points against a conference opponent — despite blowing a 4-1 third-period lead in a 5-4 shootout loss at Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
“I thought it was a harder-fought game tonight,” MacArthur said. “It felt like a playoff game. There wasn’t much given up on either side. You know, it was just nice to see our team [stick] with it. It’s easy to get frustrated.
“We stuck with it and got the win.”
The goal came just moments after Pittsburgh’s James Neal tipped Brooks Orpik’s shot off the crossbar — one of three times the Penguins beat James Reimer but caught iron. Reimer, making his first start since Jan. 17, stopped 25 shots for his second shutout of the season. When the final horn blew, he looked to the sky in celebration.
“Honestly, I feel like I have been playing good; just wasn’t getting the bounces,” Reimer said after his first win since Dec. 23. “[The puck] would deflect off guys and in and today they were deflecting off guys and off the post or wide.”
“It was just great to get the breaks and benefit from them. … It was just fun to be in there and to get a little help from our buddy the posts.”
It was Pittsburgh’s first loss since Jan. 11 — though the Penguins felt they played better than they had on Tuesday.
“We were obviously a lot better,” Orpik said. “But we were just saying, it’s funny how we probably didn’t deserve to even be in that game last night and we get two points out of it. Then tonight, we probably deserve better but we come out on the losing end.”
There was no scoring through 40 minutes of the rematch, although early in the second it looked as though the Penguins’ top line had opened the scoring.
Malkin took the puck at the corner boards to the right of Reimer, made a spin move to elude John Michael-Liles and then sent a backhander on net. Initially it looked like Chris Kunitz, who was in the crease being covered by Cody Franson, had the puck go off him and past Reimer. But after video review, it was ruled that Kunitz had directed the puck into the net with a distinct kicking motion and the goal was waived off.
Johnson had not played since Jan. 10 but was solid all night, stopping 23 shots. He stoned Phil Kessel less than 30 seconds into the second period. Later, with Malkin in the box for holding, he stopped Liles’ slap shot and didn’t allow a rebound.
Liles returned to the lineup after an extended absence, he had not played since Dec. 22 due to a concussion and finished the night with three shots and two blocked shots.
Reimer was on his toes when Pittsburgh buzzed around the Leafs zone with 3 1/2 minutes remaining in the period. He stopped Tyler Kennedy’s shot from in close though being screened by his own defenseman, then smothered the rebound as Kennedy crashed the net. Nine seconds later, Kris Letang was set up for a shot after a good cross-ice pass, but Reimer was equal to the task again.
Pens coach Dan Bylsma thought that his team didn’t get enough shots on Reimer.
“We couldn’t find a goal out there and we didn’t get enough pucks on the net early on in that game when we had opportunities to get scoring chances and goals,” he said. “It’s a tight game and they end up getting one late.”
Both goalies, who had not seen action in a long time, could consider the opening period a success.
Reimer was welcomed into the game with a Kennedy shot that hit iron; later in the period, Matt Niskanen’s point shot also rang off the post. His toughest test came on a shorthanded break by Matt Cooke, who attempted to beat Reimer with a high short-side backhand attempt but was turned away.
At the other end of the ice, Johnson made several nice saves, including two right pad saves against Brown, but his best save came late in the period when he robbed Joey Crabb who was set up with a point-blank chance.
“It helped that I got a few shots at the start was able to play the puck a bit and got into a bit of a groove with that,” Johnson said.
“I felt all right, obviously disappointed in the loss, it’s definitely a step in the right direction for myself,” Johnson said. “Our guys played well; one little chance for them and they made good.”