PITTSBURGH - It is a Monster assignment for any goaltender, but that's what Maple Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson will face when he makes his first start of the season Wednesday night here.
The Big Swede will not only face a Penguins team anxious to get its first win in three tries at the new CONSOL Energy Center, but a pair of snipers in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin who have just one goal between them in three games this young season.
"We planned two weeks ago that (J-S Giguere) would get the first two games and Monster would get the start here," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said following the team's game-day skate. "You don't want him to sit around too long where he could possibly be rusty going into the first two minutes of the game.
"He's looked good in practice and he's ready to play."
Gustavsson said the minor groin injury that bothered him in training camp is healed and he's ready to get started on his second season in the NHL.
"I could have played, but it was a good thing I didn't go on the ice for two days," Gustavsson said. "Since then, I've felt good and I'm ready to go."
At 2-0, the Leafs are certainly a loose group heading into their first road contest of the season which is a little more than what can be said about the Penguins. While certainly not in a state of panic, Crosby and Co. are anxious to get a win at their sparkling new facility.
"I think there's an urgency on our team right now based on (the way last year ended)," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "I think there is an urgency to get back to winning games and making this a tough building to play."
Crosby, who has been held to one assist, said he is confident the opportunities will come.
"We're getting good chances and creating a lot, that's hockey," Crosby said. "We know Toronto is playing well but this is a big game for us."
Depending on how you look at it, the Penguins' offensive struggles could work in Toronto's favour as well.
"When things aren't going your way, the pressure can also prevent you from getting of to a good start," Wilson said. "We went through that last year - an entirely different set of circumstances and a different team. But Pittsburgh hasn't played poorly. We'll play our game and be aware of those two guys when they are on the ice."
The Pens will be without two of their top defenceman - Zybnek Michalek (suspected shoulder injury) and Brooks Orpik (groin).