The Maple Leafs are back home for a marquee matchup against the Metro Division-leading Pittsburgh Penguins in front of a half-capacity crowd tonight at the Scotiabank Arena (7 p.m. EST, Sportsnet Ontario).

This should be a hell of a matchup between two teams with plenty of star power, high-end 5v5 numbers, elite 1-2 center duos, red-hot special teams, and good goaltending. Mix in the return of the fan atmosphere at the SBA, and there is plenty to get up for tonight.

The Penguins have been on an exceptional run over the last two-and-a-half months. Since losing 5-2 to the Oilers on the first of December, they’ve only lost six times in 26 games (17 regulation wins). They have the NHL’s second-best points percentage over that time and sit top 10 in all significant categories at five-on-five to go along with a power play that has enjoyed a surge in production as the season has progressed.

Relevant to tonight’s game, the Pens also have the league’s best road record this season at 17-5-3. Before Tuesday’s OT win at home against the Flyers, Pittsburgh won three consecutive on the road against the Bruins, Sens, and Devils, outscoring their opponents 10-4 in the process.

The Pens’ two-headed monster down the middle — Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin — is healthy and in form at the moment, with Crosby riding a seven-game point streak (three goals, nine assists) coming into tonight.

Alongside linemates Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust, they each have at least 11 points in their last 10 games, much of it coming by way of the man advantage. The team has scored 12 times in their last 31 power-play opportunities (38%) — Crosby, Guentzel, and Rust all have five or more points on the PP over that span.

The Leafs‘ top line is entering the game on even more of a tear — Matthews has 16 points and eight goals over his eight-game point streak, Mitch Marner is also producing at a goal a game and 2.0 points per game over his last 11, and Michael Bunting has eight goals in his last 14.

In net, after a relatively easy night in Seattle, Jack Campbell has now won two-of-three starts and is hopefully working his way back into form. He will get the nod again tonight before he shares the net with Mrazek more next week when the Leafs play four times including a back-to-back on Monday-Tuesday.

For Pittsburgh, Tristan Jarry will make his 38th start of the season. For sticking with Jarry this past summer, Ron Hextall and the Penguins have been rewarded with a career year from the 26-year-old. He lost three-in-a-row at the start of February before missing around a week with an injury, but he’s now won his last two starts since returning.

After claiming him off of waivers yesterday, the Leafs placed Adam Brooks back on waivers today in hopes of sneaking him through and creating a waiver-free window with the 25-year-old centerman for the next 30 days. Timothy Liljegren, sent down in a paper transaction until Brooks could be waived off of the roster today, should return soon but will make way for Travis Dermott tonight.

Game Day Quotes

Sheldon Keefe on the chance for Travis Dermott to take advantage of his return to the lineup:

I hope so. Anytime that’s the case, you the [player] will step in into the opportunity that’s become available and need to take advantage. It’s not the first time he’s had to take some time off and reflect and those types of things, but he’s part of a rotation of moving guys in and out.

You just expect the guy to go in and be energized. It’s not an easy road trip that we’ve just been on, and he’s still part of the travel and so on. We still expect him to bring some extra energy tonight.

Keefe on Spezza’s renowned fake slapshot and how it uses it to deceive opponents:

They may know that it’s coming, but they’ve also seen him rip it over the goalie’s shoulder a number of times. You know he’s a guy that has a tendency to use a fake, whether it’s a pass or to change the angle on his own shot, but you don’t know when he’s going to use it.

As a goaltender, you always have to really respect the shot and trust that your defenders are going to take care of anything on the backside. Spez does a good job of recognizing when it’s the right time to shoot it or when there might be a stick available on the backside. He finds those and it’s worked well for us recently.

Keefe on the Penguins’ second-ranked PK:

[They] pressure up ice and make it hard to get organized. They disrupt you, and your breakouts and entries become more challenging. They’re in lanes. They block shots. Goaltending is good for them. They defend hard. They’re good on loose pucks — all the things you come to expect on a top penalty kill.

Pierre Engvall on playing the Penguins hard from the start:

They’re a great team — I think they’re underrated. They’ve got some skilled guys, but even their depth [players] are really hard working. We’ve got to stay on top of their good guys, not give them anything, and [play hard] from the beginning.

We’ve got to stay structured from the beginning. We can’t give up [the chances] the first 1- minutes and then feel like, “Oh, we’ve got to start working hard.” We’ve got to go out hard from the start, stay structured, and play the way we’ve been playing the last while here.

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines

#58 Michael Bunting – #34 Auston Matthews – #16 Mitch Marner
#5 Alex Kerfoot – #91 John Tavares – #88 William Nylander
#65 Ilya Mikheyev  #64 David Kampf – #25 Ondrej Kase
#47 Pierre Engvall – #19 Jason Spezza – #24 Wayne Simmonds

#44 Morgan Rielly –  #78 TJ Brodie
#8 Jake Muzzin  – #3 Justin Holl
#38 Rasmus Sandin – #23 Travis Dermott

Starter: #36 Jack Campbell
#35 Petr Mrazek

Pittsburgh Penguins Projected Lines

#58  Jake Guentzel – #87 Sidney Crosby – #17 Bryan Rust
#23 Brock McGinn – #71 Evgeni Malkin – #42 Kasperi Kapanen
#43 Danton Heinen – #77 Jeff Carter – #9 Evan Rodrigues
#12 Zach Aston-Reese – #11 Brian Boyle – #49 Dominik Simon

#8 Brian Dumoulin – #58 Kris Letang
#28 Marcus Petersson – #6 John Marino
#5 Michael Matheson – #2 Chad Ruhwedel

Starter: #35 Tristan Jarry
#1 Casey DeSmith

Injured: Jason Zucker, Teddy Blueger