Game of the night - Oct. 13

Toronto Maple Leafs (2-0-0) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (1-2-0), Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pa.

The last time the Maple Leafs started a season with three straight wins? Try 1999 when they were paced by names like Sundin and Thomas.

And Hoglund??

Regardless, Toronto is one of the pleasant surprises early this season behind solid goaltending from Jean-Sebastien Giguere (2-0-0, 1.51 goals-against average, .935 save percentage), and two goals each from Phil Kessel, Clarke MacArthur and Tim Brent.

But Giguere has never won in the Steel City, going 0-3-1 with a 3.24 GAA and .893 save percentage. That could mean the season debut of “The Monster” – a/k/a Jonas Gustavsson.

The 6-foot-3 Swede had a decent rookie season, going 16-15-9 with a 2.87 GAA and .902 save percentage for a team that finished last in the Northeast Division. He’s yet to play in Pittsburgh, and lost his only start at home to the Penguins.

Last season, Kessel was one of 11 players tied for the team lead in goals scored againt the Pens with one. Besides Kessel, the only others remaining are Tyler Bozak, Carl Gunnarsson, Colton Orr and Luke Schenn.

Toronto, which starts a two-game road trip with this contest, was 12-21-8 away from home last season, but closed that slate with a 3-1-1 mark.

The last time the Penguins dropped three in a row in Pittsburgh? Dec. 20, 2008 to Jan. 3, 2009 – a five-game stretch that started with a loss to Toronto.

A third straight setback is probably not how they envisioned christening their new $321 million arena.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have long been considered the second coming of Lemieux and Jagr. Though they have combined for one goal and one assist so far in 2010-11, Sid and Geno could be in line for a breakout performance.

Crosby scored in all four games against Toronto last season, totaling six goals and an assist. Malkin has five goals and 13 assists in an eight-game points streak versus the Maple Leafs, and has points in 14 of 15 career games versus them.

Pittsburgh is off a 1-2-0 start after winning 3-1 at New Jersey on Monday. Crosby and Malkin getting off to slow starts is not the only reason for the Penguins’ woes.

The loss of Jordan Staal, out indefinitely with a foot injury, has been a big blow, and not choosing to bring back Bill Guerin appears to be a short-sighted decision. Staal and Guerin were tied for third on the team last season with 21 goals each.

So where is the scoring coming from? Try the blueline. Paul Martin – the club’s top free-agent pickup – leads the team with three assists and four points. Alex Goligoski has two goals so far after managing a career-high eight in 69 games last season.

Marc-Andre Fleury rode the bench against the Devils in favor of Brent Johnston, but should be back in goal despite some pretty mediocre numbers against the Leafs (4-4-1, 2.97 GAA, .899 save percentage).

The pick? I’d like to see Toronto move to 3-0-0, but Crosby and Malkin are due to break out sooner or later. I’m guessing Wednesday will be the night.


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