Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal are providing plenty of offense for the Pittsburgh Penguins lately, but the team’s overall play over the last two games has left something to be desired.
Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle has been left with a similar feeling about his squad recently.
Pittsburgh looks to avoid a third straight defeat Wednesday night as it hosts Toronto, which is coming off its worst lost of the season.
Crosby’s goal with 0.3 seconds remaining in regulation Monday forced overtime, but the Penguins (15-9-1) eventually fell 4-3 to Boston.
Neal had two goals for the second straight contest - including Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Montreal - and Evgeni Malkin had an assist to give him eight along with a goal during a five-game point streak.
Crosby has a goal in four of the last five, including one in each contest during Pittsburgh’s three-game winning streak prior to the current skid. Neal has five goals and four assists during a four-game streak of recording multiple points.
“Yeah, I mean (Monday was) a good point, but at the same time, I think we got to keep getting better here,” Neal said. “We didn’t have the first (period) we wanted and we managed to stick around and battle there. We thought we deserved a little better, but we can’t keep saying that. We’ve got to do it.”
Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer didn’t have much to say after allowing each goal on 21 shots in Monday’s 6-0 loss to Columbus, as the Maple Leafs (14-9-1) fell for the second time in three games.
Reimer entered that contest 6-2-0 with a 2.10 goals-against average and an NHL-best .947 save percentage.
“I don’t really have much to offer,” Reimer said. “It just wasn’t my night. You’ll have nights like that where the puck just eludes you. As hard as you work and as much as you try and bear down, it just doesn’t work out sometimes.
”It’s obviously disappointing and frustrating.”
Carlyle wasn’t at a loss for words, though, after his team’s lackluster effort following a day off. Toronto allowed its most goals of the season, and its 18 shots were its second-fewest.
“We just couldn’t find the pace of the game at all,” Carlyle said. “It was like we were playing on our boots, and they were playing on skates. Every puck that was up for grabs. It just seemed that when we had it, we gave it away or we lost it, it went off the end of our stick, bounced over our stick.
“We couldn’t get shots directed towards the net when we did try, and then when we tried to pass, we put the pass in the guy’s feet. It was one of those where it was very frustrating.”
Phil Kessel has three goals and no assists over his last 11 games, while Nazem Kadri had his three-game point streak snapped Monday.
Kessel had a goal and an assist, Kadri scored and James van Riemsdyk had two assists in Toronto’s 4-1 victory over Pittsburgh on Oct. 26. Reimer made 37 saves in that contest, though it’s unclear if he or Jonathan Bernier will get the start Wednesday.
Marc-Andre Fleury, whose seven goals allowed over the last two games match the total from his previous five, could be in net for the Penguins.
Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul suffered a groin injury Monday, and his status for this contest is unclear.
Pittsburgh forward Tanner Glass is expected to miss three to four weeks with a broken hand, while defenseman Paul Martin will miss Wednesday’s game with a lower-body injury.