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Toronto Maple Leafs vs Pittsburgh Penguins Pick & Prediction, Sat Oct 23 07:00 PM

NHL | HOCKEY
TV: NHL | CBC | ATTSN
Logo Toronto Maple Leafs
VS
Logo Pittsburgh Penguins
0
OPENNER
6.5

-1.5 +165
CURRENT
6.5o -105

-165
MONEYLINE
+155

1
SCORE
7

One of two superstars is expected to be in the lineup Saturday when the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The game normally would be a matchup of marquee offensive talents, Toronto's Auston Matthews and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby. Both had wrist surgery late in the offseason, but Matthews' was a few weeks before Crosby's.

Matthews, the NHL's top goal-scorer last season with 41, played in his second game Friday, a 5-3 Maple Leafs home loss to the San Jose Sharks.

Crosby practiced with his teammates Friday, but he has been ruled out for Saturday. He said he needs to make sure his wrist is sound with pressure and contact such as on faceoffs and puck battles before he can make his season debut.

The Maple Leafs could use the kind offense Matthews can provide, including from him. He will be looking for his first point Saturday in his third game.

"Timing, rhythm -- it's still a work in progress," Matthews said.

He called his game Friday "not really my best performance" and indicated the whole team will be looking to bounce back Saturday in Pittsburgh: "We'd like to learn from this one."

The Maple Leafs averaged two goals a game through their first four games before netting three Friday.

"Stay with it. Be confident in the chances that you've generated," Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe offered about what his players need to do. "If you continue to generate them, your skill set will allow you to convert on those."

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has closed ranks and played a strong, disciplined, schematic game without Crosby, fellow star center Evgeni Malkin (knee surgery) and others. The Penguins have no regulation losses and six of a possible eight points through four games.

Also out now are top-line right winger Bryan Rust (lower-body injury) and Jeff Carter (tested positive for COVID-19).

Pittsburgh dodged a bad situation when No. 1 goaltender Tristan Jarry was cleared Friday and practiced after he had a false-positive COVID-19 test a day earlier.

Carter had been skating in Crosby's spot, centering the top line between Jake Guentzel and Rust. On Saturday, Kasperi Kapanen is expected to man the right side on that line in Rust's spot, and the top center role will fall to versatile but unheralded Evan Rodrigues, who is normally a bottom-six forward.

"E-Rod's a good player," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. "He's got good offensive instincts. He's a very capable guy. You know, we're going to need him now."

Rodrigues, 28, promised he won't be pressing while in that spot.

"That's the mistake that a lot of young guys make -- they get bumped up the lineup and they try to either create more offense or play a different game," Rodrigues said. "The reason you have success and get to where you are is by playing your game."

Crosby, while he rehabs and waits in the wings, has been impressed with the Penguins' play despite the absent key parts.

"Everyone is playing the same way," he said. "Every line that goes out there over the boards is playing hard. We're playing fast, and we're not giving teams a lot of time and space."

--Field Level Media

PREDICTION
Toronto Maple Leafs
4
2
Pittsburgh Penguins

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Sidney Crosby had a goal and three assists and Bryan Rust added a goal and two assists Tuesday as the Pittsburgh Penguins downed the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2.

Pittsburgh won its NHL-best 22nd home game and moved into first place in the Metropolitan Division, overtaking an idle Washington Capitals team that had led the division since Oct. 19.

Anthony Angello, Jason Zucker and Teddy Blueger also scored for Pittsburgh, which is 6-1-1 in its past eight games.

Goaltender Tristan Jarry won his fourth straight start, making 34 saves.

Auston Matthews and Kyle Clifford scored for Toronto, which lost its second straight and third in four games.

Fredrick Andersen made 19 saves.

The teams meet again Thursday in Toronto.

Pittsburgh played without leading scorer Evgeni Malkin, who was scratched because of illness.

Rust opened the scoring with his team-leading 23rd goal (and first in seven games) on the power play at 11:41 of the first. He roofed the puck from short range off a slick pass above the top of the crease from Crosby.

That gave Pittsburgh at least one power-play goal in five straight games.

Angello, who dressed after Malkin was scratched, got his first NHL goal in his fifth game to make it 2-0 at 17:03 of the first. He deflected a Sam Lafferty shot under Andersen's pads.

Off a tic-tac-toe play with a man-advantage at 2:52 of the second, Zucker gave the Penguins a 3-0 lead.

Pittsburgh made it 3-for-3 on the power play when Crosby scored at 7:11 of the second for a 4-0 lead. He scored from near the left post off a feed from Patric Hornqvist.

Just after Toronto killed Pittsburgh's 1:19 five-on-three advantage and subsequent 41-second five-on-four, Andersen turned the puck over behind his net, leading to Blueger's goal at 12:35 of the second to make it 5-0.

Matthews scored his league-leading 43rd goal on a one-time blast at 16:35 of the second, and Jason Spezza's shot went in off Clifford's skate in front at 18:01 of the second to draw the Maple Leafs to within 5-2.

The teams skated to a scoreless third period.

--Field Level Media

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