Skip to main content

3 Things to Watch: Penguins vs Maple Leafs Rubber Match

The Pittsburgh Penguins meet the Toronto Maple Leafs for the third time this season.

The Pittsburgh Penguins must move on quickly from their defeat over the rival Philadelphia Flyers as they meet the Toronto Maple Leafs for the third and final time this season.

The Penguins and Maple Leafs have split the first two meetings of the season. Here’s three things to watch for in the rubber match. 

1. Penguins Going for Six Straight

The Penguins have had a wildly inconsistent start to the season. After dropping seven straight games at the end of October into November, the team is in the opposite situation now as they go for a sixth straight win. 

One of the ways this team is racking up wins is through depth production. In their most recent win, the fourth line provided three of four goals. Similarly, the Pens have gotten a huge boost from Brock McGinn and Jeff Carter’s improved play. As the Penguins gain ground in the division, they’ll need continued contributions from their third and fourth lines. 

2. Special Teams Battle

The Penguins have to find a way to win the special teams battle against the Maple Leafs. The Penguins’ penalty kill has been red-hot lately, not surrendering a goal in six straight games. 

The penalty kill faces their toughest challenge against one of the league’s top power plays. The Maple Leafs’ power play ranks 8th in the league, converting on just over 25% of their chances. Meanwhile, the Penguins have moved into the top half of the league, ranking 12th in the league in penalty killing. 

The key matchup to watch in this battle is whether the penalty kill can shut down Auston Matthews and his lethal shot. If they can limit him on the power play, the Penguins will be able to continue their run of penalty killing success.

3. Jeff Petry Finding Game 

Another huge reason the Penguins are winning again is the vastly improved play of Jeff Petry. Skating on a pair with youngster P.O. Joseph, the second pairing is providing steady defense and a healthy dose of offense. 

Petry has seen his offensive game specifically come into form. Through 21 games, Petry is third amongst Penguins defensemen with nine points. After a lengthy scoring drought, he’s put up five points in his last nine games. He was also promoted to the first power play unit to bring a heavy shot from the point. Look for Petry’s improved play on both ends of the ice in this matchup against the Leafs. 

The Penguins host the Maple Leafs for a 7:00PM face-off. 

Make sure you bookmark Inside the Penguins for the latest news, exclusive interviews, breakdowns and so much more!

Penguins Depth Dominates Flyers in First Meeting of Season

Sidney Crosby Become All-Time Leader in Goals Against Flyers

Penguins New Look Power Play Takes Step in Right Direction

NHL Unveils Penguins Winter Classic Jersey

Mike Sullivan Needs to Maintain 'Gut Feeling' in Penguins' Shootouts