The Pittsburgh Penguins will be out to end a streak for the second game in a row Saturday night when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Penguins ended their own three-game losing streak Thursday night with a 6-0 victory over the host Montreal Canadiens. Their next task is to end Toronto’s five-game winning streak.
The Maple Leafs have won 10 of their past 11 games after defeating the visiting New York Rangers 2-1 on Thursday.
The Penguins felt that a strong third period on Tuesday, when they outshot the Buffalo Sabres in a 2-1 loss, helped them in Montreal.
“We wanted to play like that right from the start,” said Sidney Crosby, who scored the first goal of the game and his first of the season on Thursday. “I thought we did a good job of moving our feet, putting pressure on them and getting some early goals there to get a lead. That’s a big boost, especially with how many chances we had against Buffalo and not being able to convert some of those. To get the same looks and see them go in, I think that you could tell that gave us a good lift.”
Teddy Blueger scored twice for Pittsburgh. Tristan Jarry stopped 24 shots to earn his first shutout of the season.
Crosby returned on Sunday for the loss to the Washington Capitals after being in the COVID-19 protocol for 10 days. He had not played this season until Oct. 30 after undergoing wrist surgery.
“To get a big goal from Sid right away there early is huge for us,” said assistant coach Todd Reirden. “Just the way the goal happened, too, by playing good defense and winning races up the ice, that was a really good start for us and helped send us in a good direction right from the start.”
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan was not in Montreal because of the Canadian government’s mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement following his previous positive test for COVID-19. He will rejoin the team in Toronto.
Defenseman Morgan Rielly scored twice for Toronto against the Rangers and has three goals and two assists over the past three games.
The Maple Leafs, known more as an offensive-minded team, have been winning some close, low-scoring games.
“I think it’s a mindset,” Rielly said. “I think that is half the battle with most things, if not more than that. Once you kind of get it in your mind that you’re going to play a certain way and you’re just not going to give up chances against, the rest kind of follows. I think the work ethic has always kind of been there, the real desire to win has always been there but it’s just kind of a mental hurdle and mindset that I think we’re starting to establish and that is a great sign.”
A big factor has been the play of goaltender Jack Campbell, who made 27 saves — 13 in the third period — on Thursday.
“He’s been phenomenal, just goes about his business, just stopping everything,” Rielly said. “You just want to leave him alone. Like a starting pitcher, let him go out there and do his thing.”
Campbell’s 10th win of the season followed a shutout of the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.
Before Friday’s games, Campbell led the NHL in both save percentage (.944) and goals-against average (1.63).
–Field Level Media