By Steve Keating
TORONTO, Oct 26 (Reuters) - The Toronto Maple Leafs smothered Sidney Crosby, the National Hockey League's leading scorer, to claim a 4-1 win and send the Pittsburgh Penguins to a third straight loss on Saturday.
Dave Bolland scored a pair for the Maple Leafs while Nazem Kadri and Phil Kessel also found the back of the net as Toronto scored three times in the third. Kris Letang had Pittsburgh's lone goal.
The Penguins, winners of seven-of-eight to start the start the season, have slipped into a mini-slump, losing three straight for the first time in almost two years (Dec. 29, 2011 to Jan. 11, 2012).
In those three losses the explosive Penguins have scored just four goals while Crosby, who came into the game sitting atop the scoring race with 18 points, was kept off the score sheet for just the second time this season.
"They play well at home but I think through the second period we played our game and didn't give them anything, unfortunately we didn't start the third off the right way and had to play catch up from there," shrugged Crosby. "We easily could of got a couple in the second and it's a different game. We can't give them as much momentum as we did.
"I felt like we generated some good chances we just couldn't score.
"That's the game sometimes."
After trading goals in a tight opening period the Penguins dominated the second, outshooting the Leafs 16-4 but could not put a puck past James Reimer, who turned in an outstanding effort in the Toronto net with 37 saves.
Kadri broke open the deadlock 1:26 into the third, flipping a nifty backhand over a diving Marc-Andre Fleury before Kessel sealed the win, taking a goalmouth feed from Cody Franson and driving into the open net.
Bolland closed out the scoring by getting his second of the night into an empty net.
"As a team we've been doing a good job, but we know we have to do more as a team," Bolland told reporters. "I knew Fleury comes out a lot. I was thinking fake shot and go towards my forehand, but the slap shot worked."
Until Saturday Toronto had been a happy hunting ground for Crosby.
In 25 career games against Toronto the Pittsburgh captain had scored 19 goals and 40 points and had been in red hot form scoring eight goals and 10 assists.
But Toronto kept a close watch on the All-Star center limiting him to just three shots.
"You just have to stay on top of him and know where he is," said Bolland. "When he's on the ice, you got to be ready." (Editing by Gene Cherry)