The Pittsburgh Penguins are the defending Stanley Cup champions. That window to win it all is still very much open.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are building for future success. They have the young talent in place to provide optimism for the days and years ahead, but there are going to be difficult times ahead, too.
In their first meeting of the season, Toronto’s young talent on Saturday went up against a Pittsburgh team that is no stranger to winning. Penguins players have had success in the NHL playoffs and on the international stage.
The Maple Leafs were competitive, sure. This was a fast-paced game, with both teams combining for 85 shots on goal. Toronto grabbed an early lead. But the established stars of the Penguins took over after the opening period, as Pittsburgh recorded a 4-1 win.
Evgeni Malkin started the scoring for Pittsburgh. Chris Kunitz provided the winner with 18 seconds left in the second period. Bryan Rust and Sidney Crosby scored less than four minutes apart in the third period to put this away.
Crosby finished with two points as he continues his torrid pace to begin the season, while Toronto’s star rookie Auston Matthews was held without a point.
By the end, the Maple Leafs looked fatigued, having played the night before.
The Penguins have now won seven of their last 10 games and haven’t really shown any effects of a Stanley Cup hangover. If their star players can stay healthy throughout the season, they can definitely challenge for the Eastern Conference.
The Maple Leafs have stocked up on talent. The future is bright. But there is still growing to do before they’re an elite team.