The Toronto Maple Leafs seemed more concerned with proving how tough they are than concentrating on scoring goals on Saturday night at home to the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
Toronto was looking for its first win of the season, but a lackluster defensive effort produced a 5-2 loss as the Leafs continue to search for that elusive first victory.
In the opening 20 minutes of play Toronto had the same number of fighting majors as shots — two. In total, the Leafs took 27 minutes in penalties while being out shot 32-20.
Forward Sidney Crosby’s two power play goals 15 and 21 seconds into back-to-back man advantages during the second period put the game out of reach for Toronto.
Penguins’ goalie Marc Andre Fleury wasn’t tested very often in the contest, but when he had to make a save he was able to come through for his squad, eventually stopping 18 pucks.
All five goals that found their way past Vesa Toskala couldn’t be blamed on the Finnish goalie.
There were several occasions where he was screened or the Leaf defender didn’t step up to make a play of the opposing player. He stopped 27 shots sent his way.
The biggest difference in the game was that the stars for Pittsburgh were on their games. Crosby, forward Evgeni Malkin and defenceman Sergei Gonchar all recorded two points.
Those players Toronto relies on for scoring, forwards Jason Blake, Mikhail Grabovski and Matt Stajan, were all but absent from the tilt.
The only Leafs’ player to record more than a point was forward Rickard Wallin with two assists.
Toronto was able to muster some sign of life in the third period. Forward Niklas Hagman cut the Pittsburgh lead to 4-2 a minute into the frame.
Any momentum the Leafs gained from the goal was killed when forward Jordan Staal beat Toskala off a lazy defensive play for the 5-2 lead.
In an attempt to inspire his teammates forward Jay Rosehill dropped the gloves with centre Mike Rupp after the Staal tally.
Gloves were all over the ice early and often during Hockey Night in Canada. It took only 2:19 for forwards Colton Orr and Eric Godard to fight.
While the Leafs were worried about donnybrooks, it was the Penguins who were filling the net with pucks. The defending champions out shot Toronto 14-2 after the first 20 minutes of play.
Forward Matt Cooke was the first to strike 3:20 into the first period, then after an Orr penalty Gonchar found the back of the net at 10:23.
In the second period, the Leafs were given a little life thanks to a hard working and lucky goal from forward Jay Rosehill.
Almost immediately after the tally, forward Matt Stajan was given a penalty for holding. Crosby gave his club a 3-1 lead 15 seconds into the power play.
Crosby added to the lead 21 seconds into a Rosehill boarding penalty.