TORONTO – It’s too bad for the Toronto Maple Leafs that Saturday night’s game against Pittsburgh was the last time they’ll face the Penguins this season.
“They seem to be the elixir for us,” said Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson, who watched his team rally for a 6-2 victory over the visiting Pens. “The last three times, we’ve scored and controlled the play.”
Toronto is 3-1-0 versus Pittsburgh this season, including a 5-4 home win on Jan. 31 and a 7-3 road victory on Dec. 20. Pittsburgh beat Toronto 4-1 when the Leafs visited the Pens back on Oct. 18. The win on Saturday night snapped the Leafs’ two-game winless skid (0-1-1) and was Toronto’s second victory in its past six games.
“I think we played one of the best full 60 (minutes) that we played in a long time,” said Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala, who surrendered two goals on the first three shots he faced before shutting the door the rest of the way. “We were skating hard, shooting a lot and creating lots of chances…I really liked our game tonight.”
With the win, Toronto improved to 21-25-10 and sits 11th in the Eastern Conference; the Leafs’ 52 points is 12 behind the eight-place Buffalo Sabres, who hold the final playoff position.
The good news is the Leafs are scoring goals by the bucket. Toronto has amassed 19 goals in its past four games, scoring at least four times in each; in their past eight contests, the Leafs have 34 goals.
“Look, we’re going to score,” Wilson said. “If we work hard enough and generate chances, we’re going to score some goals.”
While heartened by his team’s play – and the fact Toronto overcame a 2-0 first-period deficit against Pittsburgh – Wilson offered some cautious words, too.
“Don’t plan a parade route or anything like that,” said the Leafs coach. “It was just one of those nights for us.
“We’re not a Stanley Cup contender. We’re not a team that’s going to rack up 10 games in a row in this league, but games like this are going to happen once in a while.”
Up next for the Leafs is three more home games, against Buffalo on Tuesday, Columbus on Thursday and Vancouver – featuring Mats Sundin – next Saturday.
“We’ve got a tough week ahead of us,” said Jason Blake, who scored two goals 19 seconds apart early in the third period to tilt the game toward Toronto.
“It was a great win tonight and we have to keep on moving forward. Tuesday is going to be a tough one against Buffalo.”