TORONTO – Alex Kovalev is already making the most of his return to the Pittsburgh Penguins, scoring the only goal of the shootout after netting one in regulation in his new team's 6-5 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
Kovalev, in his second game back with the Penguins after being acquired from Ottawa on Thursday, beat goalie James Reimer with a hard wrist shot.
Mark Letestu, Dustin Jeffrey, Max Talbot and Mike Rupp also scored in regulation for Pittsburgh.
Joffrey Lupul had two goals, and Colby Armstrong, Clarke MacArthur and Dion Phaneuf also scored for the Maple Leafs, 8-2-3 since the All-Star break. Toronto closed within five points of eighth-place Carolina in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
With nine players out of the lineup, the Penguins hardly resemble the team that was challenging for the top of the conference earlier this season. Pittsburgh is 11-9-3 since losing captain Sidney Crosby to a concussion in January.
The Penguins' young lineup showed no signs of fatigue while playing for the second straight night.
Lupul opened the scoring with his first goal for the Maple Leafs at 16:43 of the first period and Kovalev — who played for Pittsburgh from 1998-2003 — tied it just before the intermission. Kovalev scored with 46.8 seconds remaining, giving him his first goal with the Penguins since Feb. 8, 2003.
Shortly after Lupul had an apparent goal wiped out because the puck was directed in off his skate, Armstrong made it 2-1 by scoring his eighth of the season after nice work from linemate Mike Brown behind the net.
But two quick goals gave Pittsburgh the lead heading into the third period. Letestu used a nice screen from Jordan Staal to beat Reimer at 16:00 before Jeffrey broke free from defenseman Keith Aulie and scored at 19:44.
The Leafs were 2-24-2 when trailing after 40 minutes, but Mikhail Grabovkski found MacArthur open in front at 2:52 and Lupul scored off a rush 35 seconds later with a shot that trickled through Marc-Andre Fleury's legs.
The goals kept coming as Phaneuf turned over the puck to allow Talbot to tie it with a short-handed breakaway at 6:34. But Phaneuf one-timed home a shot less than a minute later to put Toronto back ahead 5-4. A floating wrist shot from Rupp tied it at 9:08.
Notes: Paul Henderson performed the ceremonial faceoff in the sweater he wore during the 1972 Summit Series. ... Joey Crabb was a healthy scratch for Toronto ... Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who hasn't played since Feb. 16, served as Reimer's backup. ... Penguins D Paul Martin missed his fourth straight game with a neck and shoulder injury. ... Letestu returned to Pittsburgh's lineup for the first time since Jan. 25.