The Maple Leafs have not made the playoffs since Sidney Crosby joined the NHL in 2005-06. That might change this year, but No. 87 and his Pittsburgh Penguins are still going to make it as tough as possible. The Pens scored early and often then survived a Leafs rally Saturday for a 5-4 shootout win. Despite suffering their first overtime loss, with Crosby flicking in the game clincher, the Leafs moved to 31 points, staying close to the top five clubs in the Eastern Conference. “I think they are a playoff team,” said Crosby afterward. “They have speed, they forecheck hard ... there is a reason they have won as many games (15 of 26) as they have.” Phil Kessel picked a great night to score goal No. 106 and enter the top 50 in club history, getting a fortunate bounce from a Mark Fraser shot with a few minutes remaining in regulation to force overtime. Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri were stopped in the shootout by Marc-Andre Fleury. After three early goals, James Reimer wound up making 37 regulation/overtime saves to his team’s 26 shots, including a save on Crosby in OT. Crosby also had a regulation goal, but significantly, the Leafs killed four penalties with he and the dangerous Evgeni Malkin sniffing for goals. Toronto’s top-10 ranked PK unit would have wilted under those conditions in previous years. Crosby was also rocked late in the game by a Cody Franson hit that popped his helmet.
Pens mightier than the Leafs
Toronto Sun | Mar 10