The Toronto Maple Leafs will learn Thursday night if home ice can help them figure out the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have dominated them twice this season.
The Penguins defeated the Maple Leafs 5-2 in Pittsburgh on Tuesday in the front end of the home-and-home set.
The Penguins also trounced the Maple Leafs 6-1 on Nov. 16 at Pittsburgh, four days before Sheldon Keefe replaced Mike Babcock as Toronto coach.
The Penguins have won three straight and are 8-2-1 in their past 11 games.
"Everyone is contributing," said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who had a goal and three assists on Tuesday. "Our work ethic and urgency has been there every night. We give ourselves a chance when we have that."
The Maple Leafs have lost two in a row and are 6-5-1 in their past 12 contests.
Toronto feels that a lack of a sense of urgency has hurt them.
"Ultimately, as we look at the different things, whether it's giving up leads in the third period a couple weeks ago, or getting scored on early on home ice or, today, special teams or what have you, I think the common denominator is just that the overall urgency and competitiveness of the group (have been lacking)," Keefe said.
Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin can see a lack of excitement.
"We've got to find the urgency, the passion, the love of the game, the love to compete for each other," said Muzzin, who had an assist Tuesday. "All of that needs to come. I don't know why it's not there."
Pittsburgh led 5-0 in the second period Tuesday as its power play continued its resurgence with three goals.
"The entries were really good tonight," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "They're just making good decisions. They're working together. When they do that, we have the makings of a dynamic power play. Hopefully we can get a little confidence and get a little traction."
After the first 45 games of the season -- 28 without Crosby -- the Penguins had an 18.9 percent success rate on the power play. Since Crosby returned from sports hernia surgery on Jan. 14, the Penguins are 13-for-42 (31 percent) over 13 games with the man advantage.
"We always talk as a coaching staff, Sid plays chess when some of the other guys are playing checkers," Sullivan said. "That's the kind of player he is. He's such a smart player and has such great vision."
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin was a late scratch Tuesday because of illness. Anthony Angello, who was supposed to sit out the game, took his place and scored his first NHL goal. Malkin was making the trip to Toronto.
Tristan Jarry stopped 34 shots for Pittsburgh while Toronto's Frederik Andersen made 19 saves. Andersen is expected to make his third consecutive start Thursday. He recently returned from a neck injury.
The Maple Leafs obtained center Denis Malgin from the Florida Panthers in exchange for left winger Mason Marchment in a trade on Wednesday. Malgin, 23, had four goals, eight assists in 36 games with the Panthers this season.
Also, Toronto left winger Andreas Johnsson will miss approximately six months after undergoing knee surgery on Wednesday.
The Penguins on Wednesday recalled defenseman Zach Trotman from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League and put defenseman John Marino on injured reserve. Marino underwent surgery to repair broken bones in his face Feb. 10.
--Field Level Media