Tlusty shines for Maple Leafs in NHL debut
Scores pair, including winner, in 5-2 handling of Crosby, Penguins
With captain Mats Sundin enjoying a rare quiet night on the scoresheet, the Toronto Maple Leafs hopped on the back of one of their top prospects.
Forward Jiri Tlusty scored two goals in his NHL debut, including the winner early in the third period, to lead the Maple Leafs to a 5-2 triumph in Pittsburgh Thursday night for their first road win of the season.
"The NHL was my dream, now I've played in my first game and in my first game I scored my first two goals," said Tlusty, 19, a native of the Czech Republic. "It's great."
Recalled from Toronto's American Hockey League affiliate early Wednesday, Tlusty showed off his forechecking skills before snapping a 1-1 tiewhen Alex Steen's shot deflected off his behind and past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Leafs' No. 1 draft pick in 2006 made it 3-1 just 35 seconds later.Tlusty took a Pavel Kubina feed at centre iceand outskated defenceman Ryan Whitney down the wing beforeunleashing a shot to the top corner.
"I closed my eyes and took the shot and said, 'We'll see,' and it went in," Tlusty said of his second goal. He had one goal and three points in five Toronto Marlies games this season.
Boyd Devereaux, Tomas Kaberle and Steen also scored for Toronto (4-4-3), which has five regulars sidelined with injuries.
Kubina and Steen added two assists, while Sundin had one to move into a tie with Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg atop the NHL scoring race with 18 points.
Win streak ends at 3
Sergei Gonchar and Sidney Crosby, with his third goal of the season — all against the Leafs — replied for the Penguins (5-4-0), who saw their win streak halted at three.
"We made some mistakes, and every mistake we made was in our net," Crosby said.
Toronto goaltender Vesa Toskala made several sensational saves and stopped 23 of 25 shots in his second consecutive start.
After winning only three of their first eight home games, the Maple Leafs looked strong in their third road start of the season.
TheNHL's worst defensive team after giving up 42 goals in eight games, they displayed a strong forecheck and played a solid defensive game, while Toskala kept it a 1-1 tie late in the second period with successive stops against Darryl Sydor and Mark Recchi.
Crosby opened the scoring late in the first period, jamming a loose puck into an open net to snap a four-game goalless drought. Earlier, Sid the Kid had Toskala prone on the ice but lifted the puck off the side of the net.
On Oct. 13 in Toronto, Crosby broke a 4-4 tie on the power play in a 6-4 Pittsburgh victory. In 10 career games against the Maple Leafs, he has six goals and 16 points.
Fleury, coming off a 36-save shutout versus the New York Rangers on Tuesday, was sharp early on. His best stop came off a Chad Kilger redirect from in close that went off his blocker.
Steen snaps goal drought
In the second period, he stopped Nik Antropov on a 2-on-1 short-handed break, but had little chance against Steen midway through the frame as he drove the net and banged in the puck for his first goal in five games.
Tlusty put the visitors ahead to stay inside the two-minute mark of the third period by setting up in front of Fleury and deflecting Steen's 35-footer over the netminder's left shoulder. Steen was initially credited with the goal.
"Jiri had a great game for us," Steen said. "He used his speed, got to the puck quickly and as soon as we got open it felt like he would find us. He played a great hockey game defensively as well. He'll be flying after this."
Kaberle and Devereaux also scored in a four-goal period for the Leafs, who previously had been outscored 17-9 inthe final 20 minutes.
Gonchar later beat Toskala to give the Penguins a power-play goal in each of their nine games this season.
"We didn't compete. We didn't execute. When you don't execute, you create turnovers," Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said.
Toronto completes its mini two-game road trip in New York against the unbeaten-in-two Rangers (3-5-1) on Saturday (7 p.m. ET).
With files from the Associated Press