January 23, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Penguins drop sluggish home opener to Toronto

For nine months Pittsburgh Penguins fans have been waiting to pack the Consol Energy Center. For nine months Penguins fans have been waiting to scream their heads off and show why they are the best fans in hockey. For nine months they have been waiting to show newcomers like Brandon Sutter and Tomas Vokoun why it is an honor to wear the black and gold.

The only problem was that no one told the Pittsburgh Penguins. They came out flat and allowed the Toronto Maple Leafs to hang around and eventually push past in a 5-2 victory over the Pens.

January 23, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland (left) takes a punch from Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Colton Orr (28) during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Not even Deryk Engelland’s best efforts to get some energy in his team worked as he battled Colton Orr. After failing on their first power play opportunity, the Penguins were granted another one a few seconds later when Maple Leafs defenseman Mike Komisarek took a cross checking call against Penguins center Joe Vitale at 17:51.

It only took the Penguins a minute to capitalize on the power play when Evgeni Malkin took a pass from Sidney Crosby on the goal line and snapped it passed goaltender James Reimer. The goal was Malkin’s first of the season. The Penguins ended the first period with a 1-0 lead.

The lead didn’t last long as the Maple Leafs tied it up at 3.09 in the second period as Engelland got pushed from behind into goalie Marc Andre Fleury, knocking him over and leaving an empty net for Clarke MacArthur. The goal was MacArthur’s first of the year. The Maple Leafs kept the momentum going by taking the lead on a goal by James Van Riemsdyk, also his first of the year.

The Penguins didn’t sit back for long as the Penguins captain Crosby answered 29 seconds later with his first of the year. After Crosby tied it up, it looked like the Penguins were going to give up the momentum by taking three straight penalties giving the Maple Leafs close to a minute of 5 on 3 power play time. However, the Penguins penalty kill was tremendous killing all three penalties.

The Maple Leafs wouldn’t go away quietly after being denied on three power plays as Van Riemsdyk scored his second of the game on a turnover by Malkin in his own zone. Giving them a 3-2 lead at the end of the second period.

The Pens had a golden opportunity to tie the game as they got an early power play in the third but were unable to cash in. It was the Maple Leafs increasing the lead 4-2, as Mikhail Grabovski scored his first of the year at 5.18. The third period was like the previous two. Turnovers and untimely penalties killed the Penguins. With six minutes left in the third the Penguins only had two shots on goal.

A lot of credit should go to the Maple Leafs as they played great game and got great goal tending from Reimer, but this game really was about how poorly the Penguins played. The Penguins finished with 31 penalty minutes and seven giveaways. Fleury ended up giving up five goals on 24 shots. His numbers might look bad but Fleury actually played pretty well making some outstanding saves, especially early  keeping the Pens in it.

The Penguins will look to bounce back Friday as they hit the road again against the Winnipeg Jets.


Tags: Evgeni Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby

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