Jonas Gustavsson will make his first start of the regular season when the 2-0 Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.
Gustavsson made a few appearances during the exhibition schedule but has been limited to the back-up role behind Jean-Sebastian Giguere to start the year.
The Monster will look to help the Leafs begin a season with three straight victories for the first time in more than a decade Wednesday night at Consol Energy Center, where the Penguins try to avoid dropping a third consecutive game in the NHL’s newest building.
Last season, the Leafs played 14 games before picking up their second win, but they went 2-for-2 on home ice last week. The Penguins are still waiting to give their new arena a proper opening.
Toronto opened the 2009-10 season eight straight losses, a woeful start for a team that went on to finish in the Eastern Conference basement.
Through two games this season, the Maple Leafs already have accomplished what it took until Nov. 6 to do a year ago – win twice. Toronto held off Montreal 3-2 in its season opener at Air Canada Centre on Thursday, then outshot visiting Ottawa 38-18 in a dominant 5-1 victory Saturday.
“The enthusiasm’s a lot better,” coach Ron Wilson said. “We’ve got better balance to our team.”
That balance has been most evident up front, where Phil Kessel, Tim Brent and Clarke MacArthur have each scored two goals. In addition, the Leafs’ penalty kill – which at 74.7 percent in each of the past two seasons was the league’s worst in 15 years – has gone 7 for 7 through two games.
Toronto hasn’t opened with three victories since 1999-2000 – the last time it won the Northeast Division.
The Penguins (1-2-0) are hoping to avoid a third defeat in as many games at Consol Energy Center, having lost 3-2 in the first two, but they found the road more inviting Monday.
Alex Goligoski and Mark Letestu gave Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead after two periods at New Jersey, and backup Brent Johnson made 30 saves in a 3-1 victory over a Devils team which dressed only 15 skaters.
“It was a good team effort,” said Goligoski, who has a point in all three games.
Sidney Crosby, whose 51 goals tied him with Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos for the NHL lead last season, has yet to find the net but perhaps facing the Maple Leafs will get him going. Crosby scored six goals in four games as Pittsburgh went 3-1-0 against Toronto in 2009-10.
Mike Comrie will be a game-time decision for the Penguins, but it remains unlikely he will suit up. Comrie played on a line with Crosby in Pittsburgh’s last game, but failed to register a shot on goal.
Marc-Andre Fleury will start in goal Wednesday night. He is 4-4-0 with a 3.63 goals-against average in his last eight games against Toronto.
Defenceman Brooks Orpik remains day-to-day with a groin injury after missing Monday’s game while Zbynek Michalek left in the second period with a shoulder injury. Andrew Hutchinson was recalled from the American Hockey League on Tuesday and is expected to be in Pittsburgh’s lineup.
In other Penguins injury news, forward Jordan Staal told media that he skated on his own for only the second time on Wednesday. He has no timetable for his return.