It was not, Sidney Crosby said, a matchup the Penguins had tried particularly hard to avoid.

Maybe not, but a late-game icing allowed them to do it, anyway. And it might have made their 3-1 victory against Toronto Monday night at Consol Energy Center possible.

The score was tied, 1-1, when the Maple Leafs were called for icing at 13:52 of the third period. That meant Toronto had to keep its personnel on the ice and was not allowed to send out defenseman Dion Phaneuf, who had been used extensively against Crosby.

Five seconds later, Phaneuf still was on the bench, watching Crosby celebrate his 19th goal this season.

He took a feed from linemate Pascal Dupuis, then threw a shot past Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier from just above the right hash mark for the winner.

"[Dupuis] found me in the slot," Crosby said. "There was a lot of room there."

He might not have had quite so much if Phaneuf had been involved.

"He's the best player in the game for a reason," Phaneuf said. "He has been for a long time. He makes a real good shot there."

Good enough to give the Penguins their fourth consecutive win and eighth in a row at home.

They have gone 9-1 in their past 10 games despite having to use a severely watered-down lineup much of the time and are 24-10-1, good for a 10-point lead over second-place Washington in the Metropolitan Division.

The Penguins played without center Evgeni Malkin, who sustained an unspecified injury when he slid skates-first into the boards during the third period of the Penguins' 4-1 victory Saturday night in Detroit.