The Leafs’ five-game winning streak was halted on Thursday night as Toronto was blanked 3-0 on home ice. Evgeni Malkin led the way with a pair of goals for Pittsburgh – one into an empty net – and goaltender Matt Murray made 39 saves for the shutout. Kris Letang rounded out the scoring with a second empty-netter.
- John Tavares had a strong game for the Leafs. His highlight reel play was an undressing of defender Kris Letang in the Penguins zone before getting off a shot that was stopped by Murray.
- After Zach Hyman returned to the second period late after receiving a high stick to the face, the gritty forward went to the dirty area in front of the crease, as he normally does, to get a good scoring chance.
- As mentioned, Hyman was injured on a play late in the first period. Pittsburgh forward Jake Guentzel caught Hyman dangerously close to the eye, cutting the Leafs player for eight stitches. The infraction, which should have been called a double minor, went undetected by the officials.
- The Leafs were completely neutralized by the Penguins defenders throughout the game. “You know, when you’re a good team and you’re playing good teams, there’s no room,” coach Mike Babcock said. “That’s just the reality, it gets to be that there’s no room. You have to find a way to play your game within the no room.”
- Toronto didn’t get a single shot on goal during the final eight minutes, 12 seconds of the second period.
- With the shutout loss, the first by the Leafs on home ice since Jan. 2, 2018 versus Tampa Bay, every Toronto players’ point streak ended, including Auston Matthews’s run of seven straight multi-point games to open the season (10 goals, 6 assists).
- The only goal that netminder Frederik Andersen surrendered had more than a bit of odour to it. On a Penguins power play, Malkin beat Andersen from a bad angle.
In 2016, Rob wrote “Hockey’s Enforcers: A Dying Breed”, now available at Chapters and Indigo stores everywhere.