Penguins hold off Maple Leafs, 5-4, in shootout

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TORONTO -- The Penguins held off the Toronto Maple Leafs, 5-4, in a shootout tonight at Air Canada Centre.

James Neal and Sidney Crosby scored for the Penguins in the shootout, and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped both Toronto shooters.

The Penguins got the game's opening goal, and quickly.

Matt Niskanen took a shot from the right point. The puck deflected off the stick of Toronto's Phil Kessel -- and right to Neal, who swept the puck past goaltender James Reimer from the slot 36 seconds into the first period to make it 1-0.

The Maple Leafs tied it, 1-1, with a power-play goal at 7:14 of the first period when James Van Riemsdyk, stationed directly in front of Fleury, provided a screen and a tip-in on a shot by Kessel.

The Penguins had in the first period a stretch of 3:21 on a power play, including 39 seconds of five-on-three, but couldn't score and managed just two shots.

Shortly afterward, though, the Penguins struck for goals 50 seconds apart.

Crosby gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead at 14:31. Kris Letang intercepted a little clearing pass by Reimer and threw the puck across the rink to Crosby, who scored from the left circle.

Toronto turned the puck over at its blue line, leading to the Penguins' third goal.

Evgeni Malkin caught up to the puck and whipped a blind, backward pass to Paul Martin. Reimer stopped Martin's shot, but rookie Beau Bennett popped in the rebound at 15:21 of the first period.

With Crosby in the penalty box for tripping Nazem Kadri, Cody Franson scored a power-play goal at 10:12 of the second period to pull the Maple Leafs to within 3-2.

Pascal Dupuis got that goal back and gave the Penguins a 4-2 lead at 13:01 of the second period. From behind the Toronto net, he tried to tuck the puck inside the left post. Reimer made the stop initially, but the puck trickled under him and across the goal line.

Clarke MacArthur scored for the Maple Leafs one minute later, at 14:01, from the left circle on a shot inside the far post, to make it a one-goal game again, 4-3.

Toronto pressed hard in the third period and got the tying goal at 15:40, when Kessel scored on a rebound.

The Penguins' next game is Sunday night against the New York Islanders at Consol Energy Center.

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Shelly Anderson:, 412-263-1721 or Twitter @pgshelly. First Published March 10, 2013 3:00 AM


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