PITTSBURGH (AP)—The Maple Leafs’ top goal scorer was injured and their No. 3 goalie was in net. The Pittsburgh Penguins seemed to have every opportunity to end their NHL-record home ice losing streak.
Instead, like most nights, they had no chance.
Owen Nolan scored twice and figured in Toronto’s first four goals, three in just over four minutes of the first period, and the Maple Leafs sent the Penguins to an NHL-record 12th consecutive home loss, 8-4 Monday night.
Despite playing without All-Star forward Gary Roberts (pulled leg muscle), the Leafs went 4-for-5 on the power play and have 14 power-play goals in six games. They also got a short-handed goal from Mats Sundin in the second period, his 31st goal in 41 career games against Pittsburgh.
“Sure, the points were there, but I’ve worked hard some nights and had no points whatsoever,” said Nolan, who was two points off his career high of six. “It was nice to get rewarded for it and it was a big two points for us.”
The Penguins haven’t gotten those two points at home since beating Chicago 1-0 on Dec. 29. They broke a tie with four other clubs that previously shared the league record with 11 consecutive home losses: the Boston Bruins (1924-25), Washington Capitals (1975), Ottawa Senators (1993) and Atlanta Thrashers (2000). Until this season, the Penguins had never lost more than eight in a row at home.
“You definitely never think this is going to happen,” Penguins rookie Ryan Malone said. “The refs must not like us too much because it would be nice to get a break here or there.”
Pittsburgh has lost its last 15 games, but is not threatening the NHL record of 17 consecutive losses because it earned a point in Saturday night’s 3-2 overtime loss in St. Louis. The Capitals (1975) and Sharks (1993) each lost 17 in a row in regulation time during their record streaks.
“I don’t think about it at all,” Malone said. “We’ve just got to get this thing turned around and get some bounces and work harder than we have been.”
Toronto’s No. 3 goalie, Mikael Tellqvist, made 22 saves to win for the first time since beating Carolina on Nov. 5. Tellqvist played because Ed Belfour sat out with a stiff back for the fifth time in six games and backup Trevor Kidd has allowed 13 goals in his last four games.
The Maple Leafs, who have outscored the Penguins 17-6 in beating them three straight times, also got a goal and two assists from Darcy Tucker and a goal and an assist each from Matt Stajan and Nik Antropov.
“We kind of got away from the program a little bit in the second period, but we had enough sense of mind to pull it back in and get it going again,” Bryan McCabe said. “I thought we played pretty well.”
Toronto gave Tellqvist some margin for error in his first start since Nov. 15 as Tucker, Nolan and Mikael Renberg scored in a span of 4:11 midway through the first to put the Leafs up 3-0, Tucker and Nolan on the power play. Tucker gathered his own rebound and batted the puck past Sebastien Caron with his stick about waist high.
Defenseman Ric Jackman, traded by Toronto to Pittsburgh last week, and Tomas Surovy scored early in the second to get the Penguins to within a goal, but Nolan answered with his second power-play goal of the game on a hard one-timer from the left circle faceoff dot at 12:15 of the second.
“We decided to start pressing harder, and got a few more goals up, but we still had a little lapse again,” Nolan said.
Sundin scored short-handed just over a minute later to restore the Maple Leafs’ three-goal lead. Antropov, Stajan and Bryan McCabe scored in the third after Jean-Sebastien Aubin replaced Caron, who allowed five goals on 28 shots.
The Penguins have allowed 19 power-play goals in 56 chances in their last 11 games, permitting at least one power-play goal in nine consecutive games.
“I’m not going to get into the goaltending,” Penguins coach Eddie Olczyk said. “The penalty killing gave up four goals and I tried everybody (on the penalty-killing unit), pretty much.”
Maple Leafs defenseman Drake Berehowsky, traded for Jackman, had an inauspicious Toronto debut, drawing three penalties—two of which led to goalsby his former team.
The Penguins have not won since beating Philadelphia 2-1 on Jan. 12. … Toronto has 13 goals in its two games in Pittsburgh. … Tellqvist is 3-0-2 this season. … The Maple Leafs are 11-9-3 since Dec. 26. … Nolan’s goalswere his 12th and 13th this season.