It wasn’t pretty, or anywhere close to according to plan, but the Toronto Maple Leafs are hoping the hard work that eventually paid off in a wild 5-4 shootout win over the Washington Capitals on Monday can help them halt the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 10-game winning streak on Wednesday.
The most difficult task will likely be limiting Sidney Crosby, who has 15 goals and 33 points in 21 career games against the Leafs.
“He’s dominating right now,” said winger Colby Armstrong, who played with Crosby during his time with the Penguins. “Obviously, a big challenge for us to contain him. He’s the kind of guy who makes everyone else better around him, too.”
Leafs defencemen François Beauchemin and Keith Aulie received the bulk of the ice time against Capitals sniper Alexander Ovechkin on Monday and could again draw a similar assignment in Pittsburgh.
“Crosby’s one of the toughest to play against because of his work ethic,” blueliner Luke Schenn said. “It’s pretty unbelievable what he’s doing right now [24 goals, 24 assists in 29 games]. I think every team has the same game plan on how they’d like to stop him and he just keeps continuing to produce.”
- Jonas Gustavsson is likely to get the start in goal for Toronto, with Jean-Sébastien Giguère returning from a groin injury to potentially play the next night against the Philadelphia Flyers back at the Air Canada Centre.
- Penguins centre Evgeni Malkin didn't practice Tuesday and is doubtful for Wednesday's game.
- Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf remains only a few days away from returning to the lineup and may play on Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens. He has missed 15 games with a deep skate cut to his upper leg but has been practising and will definitely be playing in time for next week's Western Canada road swing.
- Leafs head coach Ron Wilson didn't speak with the media on Tuesday, but below is audio from assistant coach Rob Zettler and defenceman Luke Schenn following practice.