It’s hard to know which team might have a more sour attitude on Saturday night when the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Both teams are coming off a disappointing loss on Friday.
The Maple Leafs held a two-goal lead in the second period against the Blackhawks in Chicago but lost 4-3 in overtime.
The Penguins led 2-0 after two periods against the Sabres in Buffalo but allowed three straight goals in the third period of a 3-2 setback.
“Just couldn’t find a way to extend the lead,” said Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, who scored his team-leading 13th goal Friday. “I think we should have been better at possessing the puck.”
Penguins defenseman Erik Karlsson said his team lost its composure over a hooking penalty called on teammate Evgeni Malkin in the third period. Buffalo scored on the resulting power play.
“Once they got that first (goal) on a horrible call, we didn’t find a way to just stick with it,” Karlsson said. “We got a little bit frustrated and just mismanaged our decisions. … It deflated us a bit, which it’s on us not to let that happen.”
The Penguins not only have lost four of their past five games, but they are struggling to get much of anything from their power play despite a cast of star-caliber players.
They were 0-for-2 with a man-advantage against Buffalo, extending their drought to six straight games. The fruitless effort on Friday came after they made their biggest changes yet on the power play, separating Crosby and fellow star center Malkin on different units.
The Maple Leafs, who had won four in a row before the overtime loss, seemed a little less self-critical Friday.
“It just looked like it wasn’t our night,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “Didn’t score enough early on our chances. I thought we could have had two or three in the first few minutes of the game and didn’t capitalize there. We didn’t give up a lot. It’s among the least scoring chances we’ve given up this season. They score three goals, basically, where we have the puck on our sticks in our end and then it’s in our net. That just made it easier for them.”
The Maple Leafs’ William Nylander, brother of the Penguins’ Alex Nylander, had his 17-game point streak to open the season snapped in the loss to Chicago.
“The best thing about this game is that we get to right back at it (Saturday),” Toronto forward Max Domi said. “Swipe that one (in Chicago) and get ready for a big test in Pittsburgh.”
The Saturday matchup will be the first between Toronto and Pittsburgh this season, and thus the first time that Kyle Dubas, the Penguins’ president of hockey operations and general manager, will go against his former club. Dubas was fired during the offseason and was immediately snatched up by Pittsburgh.
Dubas, in five seasons as the general manager of Toronto, oversaw teams that made the playoffs each year.
“Kyle meant a lot to us, trusted a lot of us,” Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner told the Toronto Sun. “If I see him, I’ll say, ‘Hi, and best of luck there.'”
–Field Level Media