(SportsNetwork.com) – The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to secure a third
straight victory on Wednesday night as they battle the Pittsburgh Penguins for
the third and final time this regular season.
The Leafs have followed up a three-game losing streak with wins over Tampa Bay
and Detroit, posting nine goals over that time. They also have only yielded
three goals in the victories that have come following a 9-2 setback to
Nashville on Nov. 18.
Tyler Bozak netted a pair of goals in Saturday’s 4-1 win over the Red Wings.
Leo Komarov tallied a goal and an assist, while Peter Holland also lit the
lamp and Jonathan Bernier came up with 26 saves.
“We’re just trying to continue the way we’ve been playing lately and put
together some wins,” said Bernier. “We worked good at both ends of the ice and
I saw the puck pretty good.”
Toronto did lose defenseman Roman Polak for at least the next four weeks with
a knee injury suffered in the game. Defenseman Korbinian Holzer was recalled
from the American Hockey League on Monday along with forward David Booth.
Booth is likely to make his Leafs debut tonight. The 30-year-old netted just
nine goals with 19 points in 66 games last season with Vancouver and the
Canucks used a buyout on the forward.
He signed a one-year contract with Toronto, but suffered a broken foot while
blocking a shot in a preseason game on Sept. 28. He joins the club following a
two-game conditioning stint with the Toronto Marlies.
Also set to return to Toronto’s lineup will be forward Joffrey Lupul, who has
not played since Oct. 28 because of a broken hand. The 31-year-old has two
goals and an assist in nine games this season.
The Maple Leafs dropped a pair of home games to the Penguins earlier this
season and have lost four in a row to the club overall. Toronto also has lost
five of its past six in Pittsburgh.
The Pens aim to sweep the season series and earn a second straight victory
after beating the Boston Bruins 3-2 in overtime on Monday. Evgeni Malkin
netted his second goal of the game just 32 seconds into overtime.
Malkin skated to the top of the right circle and one-timed a cross-ice feed
from Sidney Crosby through the pads of Tuukka Rask for his second goal of the
Crosby assisted on both of Malkin’s goals and added a goal to move into a tie
for the NHL lead with 29 points. Malkin is fourth with 25 points.
“I really like (Crosby and Malkin) together. I was hesitant early in the year.
I wanted to get a little bit of balance, but I thought they had some great
chemistry when they’re out there 4-on-4, and they’re dangerous on the rush as
you saw,” said Pittsburgh head coach Mike Johnston.
Marc-Andre Fleury earned his 300th career win with a 27-save performance,
becoming the third-fastest goaltender to reach the milestone. He did so in 547
games, behind only Jacques Plante (521) and Andy Moog (543), and only Martin
Brodeur (29 years, 223 days) and Terry Sawchuck (29 years, 323 days) did so at
a younger age than Fleury (29 years, 361 days).
Fleury’s effort helped the Pens rebound after they were swept in a home-and-
home set by the New York Islanders. They won for the 11th time in 14 games
Fleury is 15-9-3 with a 3.10 goals against average and .892 save percentage in
29 career games versus the Leafs, including 26 starts.
Bernier has never beaten Pittsburgh, going 0-3-1 with a 3.48 GAA and .912 save
percentage in four meetings.