The Pittsburgh Penguins’ penalty-killers were perfect, so Pascal Dupuis’ two goals were enough to beat the frustrated Toronto Maple Leafs.
Dupuis provided all the necessary offense, and Sidney Crosby reclaimed sole possession of the NHL scoring lead with an assist in the Penguins’ 2-1 win over the Maple Leafs on Friday night.
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The Penguins (11-3-1) bounced back from a 5-0 loss at the New York Rangers on Tuesday and killed all six Maple Leafs power plays. Toronto scored three man-advantage goals in a win over Boston on Wednesday.
"Given the game we had in New York, I think guys were pretty motivated here," said Crosby, who has 25 points this season. "We don’t like seeing that happen, especially when it’s your work ethic. When that comes into question, I think, guys have a lot of pride.
"You can’t have that happen two nights in a row, so it was a good response from everyone."
Pittsburgh entered with the NHL’s fourth-best, penalty-killing unit and showed it off.
"We have a lot of confidence in our kill," Penguins coach Mike Johnston said. "Our penalty kill has given our team a lot of confidence."
Cody Franson scored a third-period goal for Toronto (9-6-2), which will visit Buffalo on Saturday. Jonathan Bernier was solid in stopping 39 Pittsburgh shots.
Penguins backup Thomas Greiss made 30 saves, including 13 in the third period. Pittsburgh will host the Rangers on Saturday.
This was a better showing for the Maple Leafs than the first visit by the Penguins, a 5-2 loss on Oct. 11.
The latest matchup was the annual Hall of Fame game held in conjunction with induction weekend. The class of 2014 was honored in a pregame ceremony.
The teams wore Hockey Hall of Fame patches on their jerseys, and decals on their helmets.
The Penguins controlled play for much of the first period. Toronto had only had five shots in the frame, but several were high quality.
"We were handling the puck way, way too long," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "We were trying to make the stick-handle play. We weren’t as sharp with the puck as we needed to be.
"They did a good job of forcing things to the outside and blocking shots when we did, but we didn’t do a very good job of handling the puck. When we moved the puck we were over-handling it and maybe playing too slow."
A penalty-filled second period gave way to plenty of chances for the Maple Leafs to break the scoreless tie.
"As a power-play unit we have to be better," Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf said. "That was an opportunity for us to shift the momentum in the game, and we weren’t able to capitalize at a key moment. That’s our responsibility."
Out of the penalty box, Pittsburgh defenseman Robert Bortuzzo set up the Penguins’ first goal by holding the puck in the offensive zone and getting it to Brandon Sutter.
Sutter found Christian Ehrhoff for a one-timer at the point, and Dupuis deflected it past Bernier at 17:18.
Just 40 seconds later, Evgeni Malkin thought he had his seventh of the season. With an open net to shoot at it, Malkin didn’t get all of the shot that Bernier stopped with his glove.
Bernier was all but helpless 15 seconds into the third when Dupuis made it 2-0. Reunited on the top line, Crosby found Dupuis for a one-timer between the circles with Chris Kunitz screening.
Franson cut the deficit to one 6:32 into the third by taking Crosby’s failed clear and firing a high shot past Greiss. The defenseman extended his point streak to six games with his third goal of the season.
Phaneuf created a stir at 17:46 of the third when he made a shoulder-to-chest hit on Patric Hornqvist along the side boards. Malkin took exception to it and fought the Toronto captain, but put his team on the penalty kill.
NOTES: Penguins C Brandon Sutter left the game in the third period after taking a slap shot to the face from Toronto’s Roman Polak. Sutter, who wears a protective visor, was able to skate off the ice with some assistance. … Craig Adams was playing his 303rd consecutive game for the Penguins. … James Reimer is expected to start in goal for Toronto at Buffalo. Marc-Andre Fleury will get the nod for the Penguins against the Rangers.