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Crosby leads Penguins to victory over Maple Leafs

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins' injury list keeps growing by the day but they continue to roll behind a healthy Sidney Crosby.

The superstar center scored the game-winning goal with 6:03 remaining to power the Penguins to a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Crosby is seemingly the last recognizable face on a roster depleted with eight players on injured reserve and two others serving suspensions. That is why he was more impressed with the efforts of his teammates than scoring his 19th goal of the season.

"We keep finding a way to win and a lot of that has to do with the young guys coming in and the way they're playing," Crosby said. "Those guys coming in from (AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) are contributing and some of the guys who are here are playing different roles with different matchups.

"When you're missing as many guys as we are, you need everybody to come through."

Crosby took a pass from right winger Pascal Dupuis in the slot and rifled a wrist shot past goaltender Jonathan Bernier, snapping a 1-1 tie and giving the Penguins their ninth victory in the last 10 games.

"Duper put the puck right on my tape, all I had to do was shoot it," Crosby said.

The Penguins have also won eight straight games at Consol Energy Center and their 15 home wins are tops in the NHL.

Crosby has scored a point in seven consecutive games.

"He made a great play on his shot, scored a good goal and that's the way it goes," Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf said.

Right wing Chris Conner scored the Penguins' first goal 39 seconds into the game and center Brandon Sutter scored an empty-net goal with four seconds remaining. Conner's goal was his third and Sutter scored his sixth.

The Penguins played without center Evgeni Malkin (left leg injury) and defenseman Chris Letang (lower-body injury), who was placed on the injured reserve list earlier in the day.

Malkin, the NHL's assist leader, missed his second straight game after being injured last Saturday night in a game at Detroit. Letang became the fourth key Penguins' blue liner to go on the IR, joining Brooks Orpik (concussion), Paul Martin (broken leg) and Rob Scuderi (broken ankle).

Despite all the defensive injuries, the Penguins have allowed just 12 goals in their last nine games. They also killed a penalty over the last 1:05 to preserve the one-goal lead, not allowing a shot after left winger Chris Kunitz was called for tripping.

"It's not a situation where one guy, two guys or three guys are going to play 30 minutes," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said of his defensemen. "We need every guy, to a man, all six guys, to contribute in every situation."

Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves while Bernier stopped 29 shots.

The Maple Leafs' goal was scored by rookie defenseman Morgan Rielly, the first of his career. He was Toronto's first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Rielly's goal, on the power play at 6:03 of the second period, drew the Maple Leafs into a 1-1 tie. Rielly beat Fleury high to the stick side, ending the Penguins' streak of killing all 18 short-handed situations in December.

The Maple Leafs (17-15-3) have lost four of their last five games overall and dropped 10 of their last 11 on the road.

"We were a little inconsistent," Phaneuf said. "We played pretty good at times but we've just got to play better."

It would be hard for the Penguins to play any better with an injury-depleted roster.

"It's special to look up at the buzzer and seeing so many young guys celebrating a win in the NHL," Penguins center Joe Vitale said. "It says a lot about this organization that we can suffer so many injuries and still keep winning."

NOTES: Maple Leafs RW David Clarkson served the second game of his two-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of St. Louis Blues F Vladimir Sobotka. Clarkson will be eligible to play Tuesday night when Toronto hosts the Florida Panthers. ... Maple Leafs D Mark Fraser and D Paul Ranger were healthy scratches. ... Penguins C Jayson Megna suffered a lower-body injury in the third period and will likely miss Wednesday night's game against the Rangers at New York. ... Penguins LW James Neal and C Deryk Engelland -- who are suspended -- were scratched along with Malkin. ... Penguins D Philip Samuelsson made his NHL debut. He was called up along with LW Harry Zolnierczyk from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton earlier in the day. Samuelsson's father, Ulf, played in the NHL from 1984-2000. ... Maple Leafs RW Troy Bodie received fighting majors in each of the first two periods, brawling first with Penguins D Robert Bortuzzo then with C Zach Sill.
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