In determining how to slow down the high-flying Pittsburgh Penguins tonight, the Maple Leafs agree that their No. 1 priority is a simple one.
Stay out of the penalty box.
The Leafs went 1-2-1 against the Pens last season even though the teams were tied in shots on goal at 124 apiece. The difference was a lethal Pittsburgh power play that clicked on 10-of-29 opportunities, a success rate of 34.5%.
"We have to stay out of the box,"defenceman Tomas Kaberle said. "They move the puck very quickly and are great at finding the open man, so we can't give them opportunities."
Goaltender Andrew Raycroft seems, on the surface, to be the favourite to start tonight after playing in Toronto's 8-1 win over the Islanders Thursday.
"They are so good at creating open space," Raycroft said. "If you have a man in the box, there is even more room for them to operate.
"Last year during our (two losses) in Pittsburgh it seemed like we played the entire games 5-on-3."
The Penguins outscored the Leafs 22-13 during their four meetings in 2006-07.
"If you can close the gap on them out there, great," defenceman Hal Gill said. "But you can't just throw your stick out there because (Sidney) Crosby will fall over it and draw a penalty."
Coach Paul Maurice said there are other Pens to be aware of other than Crosby.
"He has been good versus us but (Evgeni) Malkin is usually the one who blows our doors off," Maurice said.
Alexei Ponikarovsky is not expected to suit up tonight. While his lower left leg injury is not considered serious, team officials want the swelling to go down ... Leafs tough guy Wade Belak is not a fan of the tactics used by Philadelphia's Jesse Boulerice on Vancouver's Ryan Kesler, a cross check to the face that netted the Flyer player a 25-game suspension.
"You shouldn't be using your stick as a weapon," Belak said. "Man up and drop the gloves if you want to settle an issue."