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Kovalev lifts Pens over Toronto in shootout

Alexei Kovalev scored a goal and added the game-winner in the shootout as the Penguins picked up two huge points on the road by beating the Maple Leafs 6-5 in Toronto. Mark Letestu had a goal and an assist in his return to the ice after missing a month due to injury.

Penguins 6 – Maple Leafs 5, SO
Air Canada Centre, Toronto
With the help of new/old face Alexei Kovalev and newly healthy Mark Letestu, the Penguins snapped a four game losing streak in the shootout against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Pens led in shots 40-31 as they took the third game in a row in Toronto, matching the record for road wins against the Leafs.

GAME FLOW
The Penguins spent four minutes of the first 20 in the penalty box for high sticking (Alexei Kovalev) and hooking (James Neal.) Both teams killed off their first disadvantage. With Neal in the box at 16:02, Joffrey Lupul opened up the scoring with a power play goal from Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel. With less than a minute left in the first, Kovalev sent a wrist shot behind James Reimer for his first goal in a Penguins uniform in eight years to put the Penguins on the board with a 1-1 tie.

Jay Rosehill and Mike Rupp dropped the gloves three and a half minutes into the second before Rupp was joined by Pascal Dupuis on a hooking call. Former Penguin Colby Armstrong put the Leafs ahead with just over half of the period gone. Letestu, fresh off the injury report, notched a power play goal from Kris Letang and Jordan Staal with four minutes left. Once again, the Penguins scored with under a minute remaining as Dustin Jeffrey knocked a backhander into the net to put the Penguins up 3-2.

Toronto struck back quickly at 2:52 and 3:27 to take the lead from Pittsburgh thanks to Clarke MacArthur and Lupul. Max Talbot scored an unassisted shorthanded goal to tie the game at four. As Letestu served a bench minor for too many men on the ice, Phaneuf scored a PPG before Mike Rupp–with the help of Letestu–tied the game at 5 to force overtime.

Despite great chances for both clubs, the extra five minutes were not enough and the game went to a shootout. Fleury was perfect as he saved all three shots from Lupul, Kessel, and Mikhail Grabovski. Reimer made a save on Letang before Kovalev nailed the puck past the rookie goaltender to snap the losing streak and gain the Pens two more points in the standings.

SCORE SHEET
Goals:
PIT- Kovalev (15), Letestu (11), Jeffrey (5), Talbot (7), Rupp (6); TOR- Lupul (6, 7), Armstrong (8), MacArthur (19), Phaneuf (3).
Assists: PIT- Lovejoy (7), Letang (38), Staal (10), Dupuis (16), Cooke (16), Letestu (11). TOR- Phaneuf (15), Kessel (20, 21), Brown (4), Grabovski (21), Kulemin (22), Gunnarsson (7), Brent (7)
Special teams: Toronto scored two power play goals while the Pens notched one. Talbot also scored a shorty while on the PK. The Pens are still on top among PK units while their power play is ranked 15th.

CINDERELLA STORY
The Maple Leafs started the season hot before dropping down towards the bottom of the standings. Thanks to their recent success, Toronto is now in tenth place in the East and only eight points out of a playoff spot.

UP NEXT
The Pens are back in action next Wednesday once again against the Leafs in Toronto at 7 p.m. The Leafs travel to Atlanta tomorrow night to face-off against the Thrashers at 5 p.m. before returning home for the Penguins.

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