The Pittsburgh Penguins’ offense appears to be hitting its stride.
The Penguins and their young offensive stars look to stay hot as they try for their longest winning streak of the season Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Pittsburgh (11-11-2) closed out November with its third straight win Friday, beating the Dallas Stars 4-1. Sidney Crosby scored twice for his 13th and 14th goals of the season, and Evgeni Malkin added his third goal in four games to give him 10 on the year.
Crosby’s first goal came 24 seconds into the game.
“When you score on your first shift in the first 30 seconds, that gives you some momentum,” coach Michel Therrien said.
The win came following a season-high five-day layoff, and Crosby felt the time off helped.
“I thought we got some good practices in and I tried to take advantage of it,” he said. “You don’t get a chance to work on things throughout the year with morning skates and short practices all the time, so you try to make the most of it when you do have the time. I felt pretty sharp.”
Pittsburgh lost six of its first seven games in November but finished the month strong. The Penguins scored two or fewer goals in all six of those losses despite the play of the 20-year-old Crosby and 21-year-old Malkin—two of the league’s top scorers.
The Penguins, who began a stretch of six games over nine days, have scored 15 goals in their last three games. They also have received back-to-back solid starts from goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who followed up a shutout of the Atlanta Thrashers last Saturday with 22 saves on Friday.
Pittsburgh is looking to win four straight for the first time since March 24-29.
Like the Penguins, the Maple Leafs (9-11-6) struggled last month. They beat the Thrashers 4-2 on Thursday to snap a four-game losing streak and win for only the second time in nine games.
“It’s a start for our team,” coach Paul Maurice said. “I’m not trying to sell that we’re really happy about where we are. … We’re not by any means out of the woods or where we want to be. The important thing is that in that (dressing) room they understand what they did well, what we need to improve on, and have the confidence that they’re getting better.”
The four goals were the team’s most in 14 games, and the two goals Toronto gave up was the fewest it allowed in five games. The Maple Leafs have allowed a league-high 92 goals this season, but they believe they can improve.
“When you’re confident, you’re doing the right things more often on the ice,” goalie Vesa Toskala said. “you feel more relaxed. It’s like a snowball.”
Toskala recorded 18 saves on Thursday for his first win since beating Ottawa on Nov. 17. He is 7-8-3 with a 3.10 goals-against average in his first season with the Maple Leafs.
Toskala, who spent the previous five seasons with San Jose, is 2-1-0 with a 3.02 GAA in his career against the Penguins.
The Penguins and Maple Leafs have split their first two meetings this season, with each winning on the road. The last four games in Toronto have featured plenty of offense, with the teams combining for 38 goals.