Remember that two-game losing streak last week?
The Maple Leafs don’t.
It only took thirty seconds for Auston Matthews to open the scoring on Thursday night versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. Toronto defeated Pittsburgh 4-1 for the first time in three games this season. The Penguins were riding a four-game winning streak entering the game while Toronto was coming off a three-game western road swing that saw them win only once.
This was the second loss Pittsburgh has suffered in regulation in the last fifteen games.
The Maple Leafs started on time and never really slowed down. They moved the puck well and generated a plethora of good scoring chances. It was a display of high-flying talent and timely saves that propelled Toronto to victory.
The Penguins had their fair share of opportunities, but Campbell stood his ground. Jack Campbell was solid, making 45 saves on 46 shots. This was good enough for a .978 save percentage and first star of the night. Campbell demonstrated that he is rounding into form nicely and that a little bit of confidence makes a massive difference.
Special teams played a significant role in the game which is much to the chagrin of the Maple Leafs who rank second in shorthanded goals scored and first in power-play percentage. Toronto went 1-2 on the powerplay, courtesy of Morgan Rielly, who scored a highlight-reel goal midway through the second period. Jack Campbell earned his first assist of the season on the goal.
David Kampf scored his seventh of the season shorthanded off a creative play by Rielly late in the second period. This was Toronto’s seventh short-handed goal this season.
Evgeni Malkin opened the scoring for the Pens’ midway through the third period but this was followed quickly by Michael Bunting’s 16th goal of the year to make it 4-1.
Pittsburgh finished the game 0-5 on the power play.
Late in the third period, Auston Matthews was forced to leave the game momentarily after a bizarre sequence of events that saw him unintentionally skate into the crossbar, knocking the net off, along with a few front teeth. Matthews returned to the game but did not play another shift.
The Maple Leafs took full advantage of their scoring opportunities and the Maple Leafs defense which has been a source of issues at times in previous games didn’t give the Penguins much to work with which contributed to Jack Campbell not seeing a lot of high dangerous chances. By all accounts this was one of the Maple Leafs best games all season.
The Maple Leafs will look to continue their scoring streak against St. Louis when they take on the Blues Saturday night.