PITTSBURGH (AP) A strong start helped the Toronto Maple Leafs knock off the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions.
Tyler Bozak scored two goals, and the Maple Leafs scored three times in the first period in a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
”Whenever you can get that kind of a lead in this league, it’s nice, and obviously against a team like (Pittsburgh), that can score a lot of goals, it’s nice to have a little cushion,” Bozak said. ”(Pittsburgh) has a great team over there, so it’s nice to come in here and get a win on the road.”
Conner Brown and James van Riemsdyk scored in the first 1:42 of the game, and Bozak also scored in the first period. Mitch Marner had three assists for the Maple Leafs, who’ve won five of their last seven.
Frederik Andersen stopped 33 shots for his 50th win with the Maple Leafs. Andersen has won 11 of his last 15 starts.
Evgeni Malkin scored his ninth goal on the power play and Riley Sheahan tallied his third for Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby scored his 13th with 2:48 to play, but the Penguins couldn’t manage the equalizer. Crosby has at least one point in 10 of the last 12 games. Pittsburgh had won five of six before Saturday.
Tristan Jarry made 13 saves, but allowed three first-period goals before he was pulled for Casey DeSmith. DeSmith, making his second career appearance, stopped eight shots.
”We just weren’t good enough, and it was the difference in the outcome,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. ”When you play good teams, you can’t spot them a three-goal lead. I’m not sure I understand why, but that’s something as a group we have to solve if we want to become the team we want to be.”
Brown got Toronto started early when he took a feed from Morgan Rielly in the slot and whipped a wrist shot behind Jarry.
Van Riemsdyk struck again 19 seconds later. Marner missed on a wrap-around attempt and van Riemsdyk flipped the rebound over a sprawled Jarry.
Bozak gave the Leafs a 3-0 lead later in the period. Marner put the initial shot on goal from the left boards and Bozak, from the top of the crease, took three whacks at the rebound before converting. It was Bozak’s first goal in 13 games.
”It hasn’t been going well just points-wise for our line,” Bozak said. ”We’ve been getting chances, but it just hasn’t been going in. It’s nice to contribute and be part of a big win.”
Sheahan put Pittsburgh on the board late in the second period when he finished a two-on-one with Dominik Simon.
Malkin cut the deficit to one with a power-play goal, beating Andersen with a deflected wrist shot from the top of the right circle.
But Bozak answered 22 seconds later when he tipped Jake Gardiner’s point shot past DeSmith.
”I just thought we were ready to go,” Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. ”It was a big start for us and then we rode that until the end. It was a big win for us on the road against a good team.”
NOTES: Penguins G Matt Murray participated in Saturday’s morning skate for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury on Nov. 27. Murray, who missed his fifth game, is considered day-to-day. … The Penguins have at least one power-play goal in eight of their last nine games, including seven straight at home. … Toronto D Ron Hainsey, a key component to Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup run last season, finished with one assist. … Simon made his season debut, filling in for Tom Kuhnhackl, who is out with an upper-body injury. … Pittsburgh recalled D Kevin Czuczman and re-assigned D Frank Corrado.
Maple Leafs: Host Edmonton on Sunday.
Penguins: Finish a season-high five-game homestand Monday against Colorado.