PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The Pittsburgh Penguins’ new arena is generating additional revenue and plenty of praise from around the NHL. What it’s not doing is creating any victories for the home team.
Clarke MacArthur scored twice and the Toronto Maple Leafs withstood Sidney Crosby’s first goal of the season to keep the Penguins winless in their new home, beating Pittsburgh 4-3 on Wednesday night.
Francois Beauchemin and Colton Orr also had goals for the Maple Leafs, who scored on four of 14 shots. Toronto is 3-0 for the first time since its division-winning 1999-2000 season; last season, the Leafs didn’t get their third victory until their 15th game.
“Everyone keeps bringing up last year,” Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said. “Well, it doesn’t really matter right now. We’re focused on this group and this year.”
The Leafs held on despite being outshot 9-2 in the third period, when Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Mark Letestu all failed to convert good scoring chances.
Pittsburgh is 1-3 overall and 0-3 in the Consol Energy Center, which opened last week as the replacement for the 49-year-old Civic Arena.
A new-arena jinx? None of the Penguins are calling it that. Yet.
“Each game that goes by, especially when you expect to win each one, it starts to get discouraging,” defenceman Paul Martin said. “That’s something we can’t concentrate on.”
Toronto’s Jonas Gustavsson, the six-foot-three Swedish goalie nicknamed “The Monster,” turned aside 22 shots in his first start of the season. He didn’t need to make the save as a slow-skating Malkin shot wide on a penalty shot with 1:57 left in the second period and Pittsburgh down 4-2. Malkin hasn’t scored on four career penalty shots.
“I just tried to be calm and not play too far out so he could beat me,” Gustavsson said.
Crosby got Pittsburgh to within a goal by scoring on a backhander from along the goal line with 44 seconds left in the period. But the Maple Leafs kept the lead despite going 16:51 without a shot at the end of the second period and the start of the third.
“Fourteen shots against, usually you’re pretty happy with that,” Crosby said. “But I don’t think we generated enough ourselves.”
Some sloppy Penguins defensive play helped Toronto open that 4-2 lead. With Zbynek Michalek (right shoulder) and Brooks Orpik (groin) injured, the Penguins were down to six healthy defencemen.
Max Talbot’s third goal in two seasons gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead at 17:33 of the first.
The first of MacArthur’s two goals in a 7½-minute span tied it only seven seconds into a power play created by Eric Tangradi’s high-sticking penalty. MacArthur beat Marc-Andre Fleury on a one-timer off Tomas Kaberle’s cross-ice pass following a faceoff win.
Toronto took the lead 2½ minutes later, scoring again after a faceoff as quick passes by Luke Schenn and Mike Zigomanis created Beauchemin’s partially screened shot from above the left circle.
MacArthur then scored his fourth in three games, snapping off an undefended wrist shot from the left circle past Fleury after a wide-open Mikhail Grabovski slipped him a pass from behind the net.
“The pass he (Grabovski) made through the skates there was unbelievable,” MacArthur said. “I think the goalie was still looking behind the net.”
And the Penguins are still looking for their first victory in their new place.
“We didn’t have the best skate this morning, we weren’t sharp and it carried over,” Martin said.
Notes: Malkin’s penalty shot was only the second for the Penguins in two seasons. … Crosby’s one point in three games represented the worst start of his six-season career. … Malkin was scoreless after having seven goals and 27 assists in his first 15 career games against Toronto. … Pittsburgh was 1 for 3 on the power play and is 3 for 20 for the season. Chris Kunitz’s goal at 11:27 of the first period was the first allowed by Toronto’s penalty-killing unit this season. … Fleury, 0-3 this season, made only 10 saves. … Orr didn’t play the final 1½ periods after absorbing a hard right hand while fighting Deryk Engelland. Orr was held out for precautionary reasons, and felt better when the game ended.