Leafs Rout Pens: Kaberle Has Three Helpers

Dino MoriAnalyst IDecember 21, 2008

The boys in blue and white were better than those in the powder blue uniforms at the Mellon Arena on Saturday.

The Toronto Maple Leafs outworked, outshot, and outscored the homesteading Pittsburgh Penguins, 7-3, as seven different Buds found the back of the net.  Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle chipped in with three assists on the night.

Toronto held a huge territorial edge firing 40 shots at Pens' goalies, starter Marc-Andre Fleury and back-up Dany Sabourin, who came in at the start of the third period.

Fleury was given a seat on the bench after allowing five goals on 33 shots in 40 minutes of action.  Sabourin gave up two goals on just seven shots.

After surrendering eight goals in their previous game to the Boston Bruins, one could hardly imagine the Maple Leafs curtailing the high-flying Pittsburgh Penguins.  The Penguins came into the game ranked seventh amongst 30 NHL clubs in scoring with 103 goals.  Toronto, meanwhile, entered the contest in 12th place with 92 tallies.

But, as the saying goes, that's why they play the games.

The Leafs got off to a strong start as Dominic Moore opened the scoring on the powerplay, re-directing a Pavel Kubina point shot past Fleury at 7:45 to give the Leafs a 1-0 lead.

Just over two minutes later, the Pens tied the affair at one when Evgeni Malkin took a tape-to-tape pass from defenseman Mark Eaton, went around blueliner Jamie Sifers, and deked Toronto netminder Vesa Toskala for his 15th of the season. 

Malkin also added an assist on the night, raising his league leading point total to 55.  Teammate Sidney Crosby is second in NHL scoring with 46 points.

Toronto wasted no time getting the lead back as Jason Blake fed Jeremy Williams in the high slot, and the opportunistic Williams wristed a floater past Fleury at 11:49.

That was followed by Jonas Frogren's first ever NHL goal at 12:56, with assists to Matt Stajan and Nik Antropov.  Frogren, wearing a grin a mile long, told Hockey Night in Canada's Elliott Friedmann he's not a goal scorer, during the first period intermission interview.

With the Leafs leading 3-1 in the second period, Malkin had a major brain cramp in front of his own net leading to Toronto's fourth goal. His errant pass went right on the stick of Niklas Hagman, who quickly fired it over a startled Fleury.

Hagman was making his first start in five games for Toronto, after spending the last four recovering from a concussion suffered on Dec. 6 against Washington.  The unassisted goal was Hagman's ninth of the year.

With a little over five minutes left in the second period, Pittsburgh tough guy Eric Godard wanted to light a fire under his Pens mates.  He preceded to stalk Toronto's heavyweight Andre Deveaux around the ice and goad him into a fight.  But, Deveaux didn't want any part of Godard, who was given a two-minute minor for roughing.  

On the ensuing Leafs powerplay, defenseman Kubina rocketed a laser through a screen at 16:20 to give Toronto a commanding 5-1 advantage.    

Petr Sykora, who scored twice on the night, got the Pens back to 5-2 early in the third on a powerplay at :58. 

But, any hopes of a Pittsburgh comeback were dashed after referees Tom Kowal and Mike Hasenfratz whistled the Pens for three consecutive minor penalties.  The third penalty, a cross-checking minor to Crosby, enabled Antropov to notch his 13th of the season to go along with his two assists.

On the night, Toronto was 2-for-7 with the man-advantage, while Pittsburgh was 1-for-4.

Tomorrow, the Leafs are in Atlanta to face Ilya Kovalchuk and the Thrashers.