Dupuis scores twice as Penguins rally past Leafs
TORONTO — Coach Dan Bylsma breathed easier, earlier on Thursday.
Not by a whole lot, though.
His Penguins' second consecutive comeback victory — a 3-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre — once again was sparked by a late goal that ended an opponent's shutout bid.
Also, again, that goal was scored by one of those other guys who play with captain Sidney Crosby.
“We're just finding ways to win right now, and obviously they're a big part of it,” center Brandon Sutter said, referring to Crosby's wing tandem of Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis.
Both of those players have scored to start third-period rallies in the past two games, each a victory along a seven-game winning streak for the Penguins.
A Kunitz goal with about seven minutes remaining sparked a comeback from a 2-0 deficit in a 3-2 home victory over Boston on Tuesday night.
Two days later at Toronto, Dupuis got things going.
His first of two goals — set up by a stationary behind-the-back feed from Crosby — pulled the Penguins even, 1-1, with just over seven minutes remaining.
Kunitz fed a pass to Crosby to start that sequence.
Crosby fed a pass to Kunitz to start the next one.
Kunitz then backed off Toronto players before he dished to Dupuis, who rocketed a shot past Toronto goalie Ben Scrivens with 2:10 remaining.
Kunitz is second in the NHL with 39 points, trailing only Crosby's 47.
Dupuis has scored 13 goals. Only 13 players began Thursday with at least that many.
Crosby's roll — 22 points in 10 games — shows no sign of slowing down.
Only his concussion-related absences that stretched from January 2011 to March 2012 have slowed down the Penguins' top line.
Kunitz and Dupuis have held the most coveted spots in hockey — Crosby's wingers — since the 2010 season. Crosby has averaged 1.51 points in 172 regular-season games since, and amassed 259 of his 655 points — or 39.5 percent of his career total.
“Obviously, when you play with teammates over a long period of time you develop chemistry,” Dupuis said. “That's when you're able to find a guy backdoor, spin-a-rama, backhand, while he's by himself.”
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was by himself when Maple Leafs center Leo Komarov broke in late, but Fleury held his ground — negating the misfortune of a broken stick by Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik — to make a critical save when the game was in doubt.
Fleury finished with 28 saves, and Dupuis called this performance “one of his best.”
“Well, I gave up four last time,” Fleury said, referring to the 5-4 shootout victory last Saturday. “I wanted to be better.”
Actually, the game was in doubt — as in, the Penguins had a chance to win — only because their 25th-ranked penalty kill finally contributed in a positive manner.
The Maple Leafs had scored on two of three chances in a shootout loss at home to the Penguins last Saturday, but they were 0 for 3 in this defeat, Toronto's fourth in a row.
Orpik drew each of the Penguins' three penalties, including a tripping call after Dupuis' tying goal and a boarding call in the final minute.
However, a blocked shot and clear attempt resulted in veteran forward Craig Adams' third goal — an empty netter, which was the Penguins' first shorthanded tally through 28 games.
The Penguins (20-8-0, 40 points) have not allowed a power-play goal in five of eight games.
“We finally got to a game where we can be happy with what we did,” Sutter said.