Back on the attack

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson described the Toronto media at the beginning of the year as bipolar.

He could easily say the same thing about his team.

Two days after stinking out TD Banknorth Garden with an 8-5 loss to the Bruins, the Leafs stormed into Mellon Arena last night and hammered the Pittsburgh Penguins 7-3.

Toronto starting goaltender Vesa Toskala was solid -- recording 20 saves in the win, including a brilliant one on Miroslav Satan late in the second period when he slid across the crease and stacked his pads.

"I think this was one of the easiest games I've had with the Leafs," Toskala said. "It was lots of fun to play."

FLEURY YANKED

Penguins starter Marc-Andre Fleury wasn't quite so brilliant. In fact, for the second game in a row the Leafs chased the opposing goalie.

In Boston, Tim Thomas was pulled after two periods. Last night Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien lifted Fleury after two periods in favour of Dany Sabourin. Toskala also was pulled in the Boston game and later ordered back in after backup goalie Curtis Joseph let in four goals in the second period.

The move to insert Sabourin last night seemed to pay off as the Penguins scored 58 seconds into the third period. But Alexei Ponikarovsky scored five minutes later -- on a second terrible giveaway by Pittsburgh star Evgeni Malkin -- to seal the win for the Leafs.

Toronto had jumped into a 5-1 lead after two periods -- having outshot the Pens 33-13 at that point. The Penguins left the ice after the second frame to a chorus of boos.

Last night's game was highlighted by the return of forward Niklas Hagman and defenceman Jonas Frogren, who missed four and 11 games respectively. Hagman was out with a concussion and Frogren was sidelined with an arm injury.

Both Hagman and Frogren scored for the Leafs.

"I just closed my eyes and shot," Frogren said of his goal. "(My teammates) did a great job of screening Fleury. "I haven't scored in two years. It's a good feeling."

As well, rookie Jaime Sifers recorded his first NHL point when he assisted on Nik Antropov's power-play goal in the third. The Leafs were a stellar 3-for-6 with the extra man.

Jeremy Williams -- who was called up from the Marlies on Dec. 7 -- scored his fourth goal in five games.

Antropov -- who had a goal and an assist in Boston -- continued his hot touch with a goal and two assists.

Matt Stajan contributed three assists while defensive unit Tomas Kaberle and Pavel Kubina also helped out. Kaberle recorded three assists and Kubina had a goal and an assist. Dominic Moore opened the scoring for the Leafs.

Petr Sykora had two goals for the Penguins and Malkin recorded the other.

Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby had his scoring slump extended to nine games.

The Leafs end their three-game road swing tomorrow in Atlanta against the Thrashers before returning to host the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.

The Boston loss extended Toronto's streak to 21 out of 31 games this season in which they fell behind. Defenceman Ian White said prior to last night's game that the Leafs had to come out angry against the Penguins.

Whether it was anger, the Leafs certainly came out flying and their Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ways continue.

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REPLAY

FIRST BLOOD

Dominic Moore's goal in the first period for Toronto represents only the 11th time this season that the Leafs have scored first.

MEN DOWN

How injury-plagued have the Penguins been this season? While the Leafs have lost 54 man-games to injury so far in the campaign, the Penguins have lost 115.

FLEURY'S FLAWS

Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury played his second consecutive game for Pittsburgh after missing 12 with a groin injury. He was weak on the Leafs' second goal by Jeremy Williams and third by Jonas Frogren, both in the first period.

He also should have controlled the initial shot on Moore's goal.

NUMBERS GAME

The Leafs and Penguins last met Oct. 18 in Pittsburgh and both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin had historic nights. Crosby tallied his 100th goal, 200th assist and 300th point, while Malkin recorded his 200th point.


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