The Penguins attempt at a season high 4 game winning streak was denied by the Vesa Toskala and the Toronto Maple Leafs, who held off the Penguins late game attacks for the 4-2 win.
Dany Sabourin was called to start for the Penguins, after starter Marc-Andre Fleury faced 28 shots in a 4-1 victory the previous night. But the Leafs got to him early, with Mark Bell scoring his first of the season 3:56 into the first period.
Bell missed the first 15 games of the season and was placed in the NHLPA Substance Abuse Program after an off-season incident which lead to drunk driving causing injury and hit-and-run charges.
In the 2nd immediately following a power-play Toronto scored on a two man breakaway, with Kyle Wellwood assisting Jason Blake. The Maple Leafs caught the Penguins with only one defenseman on the ice, and when Mark Eaton failed to keep the puck in at the blue line the Leafs were clear in on the two man rush.
Nik Antropov made it 3-0 later in the 2nd, deflecting a Bryan McCabe shot for a power-play goal.
Ryan Malone broke up Toskala's shut out attempt, scoring in the third off a fortunate bounce. Colby Armstrong's bad angle shot deflected off Toskala and then bounced off Malone's knee and into the net.
With less than 2 minutes left in the 3rd Erik Christensen's shot handcuffed Toskala, who initially made the save, but had the puck roll up his shoulder and into the net, bringing the Penguin's within one, 3-2.
However in the dying throws of the game the Penguins turned up the pressure and pulled Sabourin in favor of a sixth skater. After numerous attempts were thwarted by Toskala and the Leafs, Alexei Ponikarovsky sealed the deal with an empty net goal.
Maxime Talbot was again a healthy scratch, but that didn't stop him from having some fun after practice. With 14,000 fans on board for the Penguins open practice, encouraged by Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, Talbot threw on Crosby's 87 jersey and borrowed a stick to take the ice. For 2 minutes he did his best Crosby impersonation to the delight of the crowd and his teammates.
Mark Recchi was once again a healthy scratch, and further ensuring his departure from the franchise, it appears he may have been stripped of his Alternate Captaincy. Defenseman Mark Eaton had the "A" patch on his jersey, though it was not apparent whether this was due to Gonchar's injury or Recchi's absence.
The Penguins (11-11-2) will welcome the Phoenix Coyotes to the Mellon Arena on Monday, in what will be the 2nd game of a hectic early December schedule that sees them playing 5 games in 8 days.