Pittsburgh Penguins score early, hold on to beat Toronto Maple Leafs in Phil Kessel’s first meeting with former team

 

 
 
 
 
Pittsburgh Penguins' Phil Kessel lines up for a face-off during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
 
 

Pittsburgh Penguins' Phil Kessel lines up for a face-off during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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PITTSBURGH — Phil Kessel spent six seasons with the Maple Leafs, so the Pittsburgh Penguins forward admits it was strange to see his former teammates on the other bench.
A win against them made it little easier.

“It’s different, but it’s part of the game,” Kessel said. “You just get used to it.”

Pittsburgh added Kessel to help bolster an already-dynamic offence, centred around Crosby and Malkin. But he has scored just one goal and added an assist as he tries to adjust to playing with Crosby.

“We get chances, we just have to start scoring,” Kessel said. “It will come.”

The rebuilding Maple Leafs won for the first time on Friday, breaking out against slumping Columbus as Toronto has 11 goals in three games after scoring just one in its first two.

“I was proud of our effort,” Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “Lots of good things, but we can be better.”

Malkin and Maatta scored 39 seconds apart less than seven minutes into the game. Malkin accelerated around Mark Arcobello along the right-side boards and snapped a wrist shot to the far-side blocker, beating Bernier.

Soon after, Sergei Plotnikov’s point shot was blocked by a defenceman and ricocheted to Maata, who swept it past an out-of-position Bernier from the top of the circle. The assist was Plotnikov’s first NHL point.

“We had lots of scoring chances and power plays. We should score more than that,” Malkin said.

A timeout steadied the Maple Leafs, who got a goal back later in the period when Gardiner took a Nazem Kadri pass and beat Fleury with a slap shot from the blue line.

 
 
 
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Pittsburgh Penguins' Phil Kessel lines up for a face-off during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
 

Pittsburgh Penguins' Phil Kessel lines up for a face-off during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

 
Pittsburgh Penguins' Phil Kessel lines up for a face-off during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby hasn’t scored in the team’s first five games, a career-worst stretch to start the season
 
 
 
 
 
 
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