Fri, 27 Jan 2023

Leafs, Penguins set for another November meeting

Field Level Media
26 Nov 2022, 22:55 GMT+10

The visiting Toronto Maple Leafs and the Pittsburgh Penguins come streaking into their meeting Saturday night.

The Maple Leafs extended their point streak to seven games (5-0-2) Friday with a 4-3 win at Minnesota, and the Penguins won their fifth game in a row, 4-1 at Philadelphia.

The last time Toronto lost in regulation was Nov. 11, a 4-2 defeat by Pittsburgh.

In fact, this will be the teams' third meeting of the month. The Maple Leafs won 5-2 on Nov. 15.

"We talked about it before we played (the Penguins) the first time, that we were going to see them three times in November, so here's our third time," Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. "Get on the plane, get to Pittsburgh and be ready to do it again."

Since that 4-2 loss in the teams' first November meeting, Toronto has found success, if not style points, Keefe said.

"It hasn't been the prettiest wins, but guys are finding a way and competing, and that's exactly what you're asking of your group," he said.

"When you're going the way we are, (a key) is to try to set yourself up for success to win a game, and we've done that. And then the guys have just flat-out competed to make sure we get the points."

In addition to the team's streak, winger Mitch Marner has a 15-game point streak (20 points on four goals and 16 assists).

"We're just playing the way we want to," said Marner, who had a goal in Friday's victory over Minnesota. "We're getting guys to the net. We're getting second opportunities."

Pittsburgh is 7-1-1 since it endured a seven-game losing streak (0-6-1).

"We're playing a more complete game, a more conscientious game," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "We're getting contributions from up and down the lineup."

The stars are buoying the Penguins, as might be expected. Sidney Crosby leads the team with 28 points in 21 games and has 12 points in his past six games; Evgeni Malkin has 20 points in 21 games and got the deciding goal in a shootout Wednesday against Calgary; and Jake Guentzel has 18 points in 17 games.

But Pittsburgh also has gotten some secondary scoring.

That was on full display Friday against the Flyers when -- in addition to a Crosby goal --- Ryan Poehling scored twice, Josh Archibald had a goal and an assist, and Teddy Blueger had three assists.

Those three make up the Penguins' fourth line.

"That line's playing really well for us," Sullivan said. "They've really built an identity for themselves as far as how they're playing to help us win games.

"First and foremost, they're a real conscientious, stingy, defensive line. They've got a great defensive conscience. They compete hard on pucks. And when they can chip in offensively ... it's just that much more of a bonus."

That line has only gotten to play together for six games, as Blueger was out because of an undisclosed injury for the first month of the season.

Also, since Blueger -- one of Pittsburgh's top penalty-killers -- began playing, the team has killed all 14 opponent power plays.

"He's a real good player," Sullivan said. "He's just a good two-way center iceman. I don't think it's a coincidence our penalty kill has been as strong as it has since he's been back in the lineup."

--Field Level Media

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