Karlsson scores late in 2nd period, Penguins defeat Maple Leafs 3-2
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Penguins weren’t about to let a third-period lead slip away for a second consecutive night.
Erik Karlsson scored the deciding goal in the final seconds of the second period and the Penguins held on in the third and beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on Saturday night.
“I was really proud of our guys, coming off a disappointing loss, just with the resilience and staying with it through the whole 60 minutes,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.
The Penguins blew a two-goal third-period lead Friday night in 3-2 loss to Buffalo, But they were able to hold on against the Maple Leafs, who outshot the Penguins 12-3 while pressing for the tying goal in the third.
“I think we just defended a little bit harder,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “We probably did a better job just making better decisions that didn’t allow (Toronto) to get odd-man rushes or clean looks and when they did (Tristan Jarry) made some big saves.”
On the winner, Jeff Carter won the faceoff to Kris Letang and he tapped it to Karlsson, who beat Toronto goalie Joseph Woll for his sixth goal of the season with 27.9 seconds to play in the period. It was Karlsson’s 34th career game-winning goal.
“I think it’s been a set play in this league for as long as guys could shoot one-timers,” Karlsson said. “We got a little bit of a screen.”
Jake Guentzel scored his seventh and Noel Acciari his second for the Penguins, who had lost their previous two games. Jarry made 34 saves.
“(Toronto) has some highly offensive players and I think being able to shut down players like that gives us confidence,” Jarry said.
Matthew Knies scored his sixth and Tyler Bertuzzi his fifth for the Maple Leafs, who lost in regulation for the first time in six games. Max Domi skated in his 600th NHL game and Auston Matthews played in his 500th game. It was the sixth game where Matthews and Mitchell Marner were both held without a point.
Woll stopped 32 shots.
“Thought it was a pretty even game throughout,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “They dominated the second period, we dominated the third period. They got the puck to go in.”
Bertuzzi and Guentzel opened the scoring with goals 28 seconds apart in the first period. Bertuzzi scored on a rebound from the top of the crease at 3:59 and Guentzel tapped in Drew O’Connor’s pass at the near post. Guentzel now has points in 13 of his last 15 games.
Knies put Toronto ahead 2-1 at 7:48 of the first when he converted a rebound from between the circles.
Acciari tied the game at 2 at 10:01 of the second period.
Saturday’s game was the first between the two teams since Kyle Dubas was named president of hockey operations and general manager in Pittsburgh. Dubas spent nine seasons with the Maple Leafs as assistant general manager from 2014-18 and general manager from 2018-23.
Dubas joined the Penguins in the offseason after the Maple Leafs decided not to extend their longtime executive following a second-round playoff loss. Dubas replaced Brian Burke and Ron Hextall, who were fired after the Penguins missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
“I think any time any one of us play against a former team, there’s always something special associated with that type of a game, whether you’re a player, coach or manager,” Sullivan said. “Our players have a ton of respect for Kyle and what he’s done for our organization in the short time he’s been here.”
Maple Leafs: Open a three-game homestand Tuesday against Florida.
Penguins: Play seven of their next nine games on the road starting Tuesday at Nashville.
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl