The Maple Leafs not only turned back their clocks in Pittsburgh but they turned back to the same game plan as the first half dozen to start the season.
Dominate from the opening whistle (again they had good energy in the warm up) the line of Tavares, Marner and Hyman controlled the game each time they hit the ice. Kadri’s line did similar and the supporting cast bottom six played more relaxed with intensity and the result had the Pens chasing the game.
I’m a broken record but that has to be the Toronto game plan, every outing. Force the play and push the game up the ice.
If someone were witnessing their first game and it was pointed out Phil Kessel had been traded for Kasperi Kapanen, they might think you’re sampling too much of that recent legal stuff in Ontario. The ever-dangerous Kessel was kept in check but Kapanen continues to impress each shift he takes. The pendulum in that exchange has started to swing in Toronto’s favour. Finally.
When was the last time Sidney Crosby was almost invisible in a game against the Leafs? Was Malkin dressed?
The Pens were on their heels most of the night and the Leafs speed wore them down. The few chances they were able to muster were handled by the once again sharp play of Frederik Anderson. The reported 31-shots on goal by the Pens were pretty flattering or Mario himself was keeping count.
The largest and loudest contingent of Leafs fans to date and according to one of the media guys embarrassed the Pens management because it sounded like a Toronto home game. It was loud and you knew Leafs fans were in the building.
Pittsburgh is a popular destination for kid’s hockey tournaments and wisely the organizers plan them around the Pens weekend home schedules. It was very evident as I passed three busloads of teams heading into the game beforehand, that this would be a crazy night. As a matter of fact I was told one of Patrick Marleau’s sons was playing in a Pittsburgh tournament, just like his dad.
Solid road victory for the Leafs, lead by the dominant players, solid goal-tending, PP worked, a shortie and Marleau with goals in back to back games.
Good signs for the Leafs with four of the next six on the road but they need to package that road formula and execute it at the Scotiabank Arena #TheVault.