The Toronto Maple Leafs snapped a three-game losing streak as defenceman Ian White scored with just under 90 seconds to play, lifting them to a 4-3 victory over the hosting Pittsburgh Penguins before 17,142 fans at the Mellon Arena.
The winning goal came as a result of hard work in the corners from forwards Jason Blake and Lee Stempniak and a heads up pass from defenceman Francois Beauchemin. Beauchemin drew two Penguin defenders to him before making a cross-ice pass to White, whose right point blast beat Pittsburgh goaltender Marc Andre Fleury.
Toronto refused to let Michael Rupp's tying goal with less than three minutes remaining deflate them. Rupp evened the game at 17:45 of the third period, tapping home a centering pass from Evgeni Malkin.
Blake, Stempniak, and Luke Schenn also scored for the Maple Leafs. Schenn's goal was his first of the season and opened the scoring for Toronto. Sidney Crosby and Matt Cooke replied in a losing effort for Pittsburgh.
It was a tired group of Maple Leafs who handed the Penguins only its third regulation loss since Nov. 27. The Leafs travelled to the Steel City after losing a heartbreaking 3-2 decision at home to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. In that game, the Buds pelted Habs goalie Jaroslav Halak with 49 shots, but lost after surrendering an overtime goal to Andrei Kostitsyn.
The Penguins, who were playing for the first time since the Christmas break, didn't match the same intensity put forth by the Maple Leafs.
In recent games, Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson has juggled his forward lines in an effort to get more balance between them. His decision to put Blake and Stempniak together along with center Wayne Primeau paid off against the Pens. The trio contributed two goals and three assists and were tenacious both offensively and defensively.
Blake had arguably his best game this season in a Leafs uniform; he notched his ninth goal of the campaign, putting the Maple Leafs ahead 3-2 late in the middle period. He also fought feverishly in the Penguins end that led to White's winning tally, even though he didn't register an assist on the play.