Sports Network | October 13, 2010
(Sports Network) – Coming off their inaugural win of the season last time out, the Pittsburgh Penguins take a third stab at picking up their first victory at the brand-new Consol Energy Arena this evening when they host a Toronto Maple Leafs club that is looking to begin the season with three victories in a row.
The Penguins started the season with home losses to the Flyers and Canadiens to open up their new arena before hitting the road on Monday to battle the Devils. Pittsburgh left the Garden State with a 3-1 victory, getting a goal and an assist from former New Jersey blueliner Paul Martin.
“You knew they were going to shoot and go to the net hard,” Johnson said of the Devils’ offense. “Just to make the first stop — I didn’t really need to make the second, the guys were great in front of the net. All night, our [penalty kill] was excellent.”
Pittsburgh was short-handed on the blue line after Brooks Orpik missed the game due to groin injury and Zbynek Michalek left in the second period because of a shoulder ailment. Both defenders are questionable for tonight and blueliner Andrew Hutchinson was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Tuesday.
The Pens return home for two straight games and are still looking for Sidney Crosby’s first goal of the season. Crosby notched a league high-tying 51 tallies last year and scored in each of the four meetings with the Maple Leafs.
Crosby’s six goals and seven points helped the Penguins win three of four over the Maple Leafs last year, as did goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury’s 2.71 goals-against average in the four meetings. Fleury is 8-6-2 with a 3.02 GAA lifetime versus Toronto, while Crosby has 14 goals and 18 assists.
Toronto, which lost five of its last eight trips to Pittsburgh’s old home, Mellon Arena, has opened up the season with consecutive wins for the first time since starting the 1999-2000 campaign 3-0. The Maple Leafs didn’t earn their first victory last year until Nov. 6 because of a 1-7-5 start.
After opening the season with a home triumph over Montreal last Thursday, Toronto recorded a 5-1 rout of Ottawa on Saturday at Air Canada Centre.
Kris Versteeg picked up his first two points in a Maple Leafs sweater with a goal and an assist and also dropped his gloves to record the infamous “Gordie Howe hat trick” and both Phil Kessel and Clarke MacArthur finished with a goal and a helper.
“I think we played our game and played the way we wanted to,” said Versteeg. “They’re a skilled team over there and if you give them some time and room they’ll make you look silly. But we played a good game and were able to come out on top.”
Toronto hits the road for the first time this year for two straight and head coach Ron Wilson has said that Jonas Gustavsson will make his season debut in net for one of the games. Gustavsson has lost his only career start versus the Penguins, while Giguere has dropped each of his last three starts (0-2-1) to the club, yielding 11 goals in that span.
Giguere hasn’t beaten Pittsburgh since Nov. 6, 2006 while with Anaheim.