Crosby put the Pens ahead to stay when he took a centering pass from Pascal Dupuis and beat Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier to the stick side with a wrist shot with 6:03 left. Crosby took home first star honors, and continues to lead the National Hockey League in points with 47, two ahead of Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane.
Pittsburgh center Brandon Sutter got his sixth goal of the season when he added an empty-net score with just 3.6 seconds left in the game. It was the Penguins’ first shorthanded goal of the year, as Chris Kunitz was in the penalty box at the time.
The win gave the Black and Gold a record of 24-10-1 and 49 points as they remain the leader of both the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference. Dan Bylsma’s crew has posted 15-3-0 record at home this season, and they are 9-1 in their last 10 games. The Maple Leafs are in fifth place in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference with a record of 17-15-3 and 37 points.
Right wing Chris Conner picked up his third goal of the season as he got the Penguins on the scoreboard just 39 seconds in to the first period. Defenseman Brian Dumoulin got the first NHL point of his career when he sent the puck toward the crease from the point, and Conner wrapped his stick around Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf to deflect it past Bernier.
Rookie Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly scored his first goal of his NHL career on the power play as he carried the puck through the neutral zone and skated through the defense before snapping a shot past Fleury 6:03 in to the second period. Reilly’s goal snapped a streak of 18 consecutive power plays killed by the Pens.
The Penguins will head to the Big Apple to take on the New York Rangers (16-17-1, 33 points) on Wednesday, and the opening faceoff is set for 8 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network.
From The Clipboard: Pittsburgh left wing James Neal, center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Deryk Engelland were the scratches…Monday was the last of three games between the Penguins and the Maple Leafs this season. Toronto won the first game 4-1 on Oct. 26 while the Black and Gold won the rematch 6-5 in a shootout Nov. 27…The Pens won 43 faceoffs as a team. Crosby won 17 of 31 while left wing Jussi Jokinen won nine of 11…The Penguins had a crowd of 18,573 at Consol Energy Center.