On My Shoulders Boys - Leafs defeat Blues 3-2

With the Toronto Maple Leafs looking to rebound from their first mini losing streak of the season (2 games), it was crucial for the blue and white to get off to a great start against the St. Louis Blues. In what coach Ron Wilson described as the best period the Leafs have played this season, Toronto dominated the opening frame out shooting the Blues 14-8. On the strength of power play goals from John Michael Liles and Phil Kessel, Toronto took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. The Leafs were able to carry the play mostly due to their strong skating and quick puck movement. Unable to keep up with the Leafs, St.Louis was called for three minor penalties in that frame.

As much as the Leafs dominated the first period, the Blues reversed the flow and completely controlled the game from that point forward. Under new coach Ken Hitchcock, this version of the Blues demonstrated that they are able to pressure and create havoc with their relentless forechecking. Toronto was lucky to complete a pass in the final two periods, and the Blues poured it on outshooting Toronto 31-8 the rest of the night. The Blues were aided by the fact that the referee's decided to allow the Blues to manhandle the boys in blue and white. Toronto was penalized twice for breaking sticks with slashes, while the Blues injured David Steckel, Joffrey Lupul and Mike Komisarek with vicious slashes to the hands. There were no penalties called on the Blues, I guess sticks are more important than hands.

The story on this night was Ben Scrivens. The rookie stopper in his third career start made 38 saves, and many were of the spectacular variety. The Leafs were exposed constantly by the hungry Blues (the same team that dominated the Conference leading Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday). While people may say that the Leafs played poorly, I'd say it was more that the Blues played well for their new coach. Scrivens was strong on the night, and his abilities allowed the Leafs to kill off some key Blues power plays. Patrick Berglund and Jason Arnott were the only Blues able to beat Scrivens on the night.

Phil Kessel scored the lone shootout goal, while Scrivens stopped Alex Steen, TJ Oshie and Matt D'Agostini in succession to seal the victory for the Leafs. Considering the firestorm that has been under way in Toronto all week, Scrivens' performance was great to see. Tonight's victory were two massive points for this young Leafs team.

Men of the Match

Leafs: Phil Kessel - The leagues leading goal scorer and point producer, was huge in the first period scoring a goal, and having a big hand in the other Leaf marker. He also scored the shootout winner for the Leafs.

Blues: Alex Pietrangelo - A star in the making. Selected one spot ahead of Luke Schenn, Pietrangelo set up the Blues first goal and was a threat all night. He also logged 26:48 to lead the Blues on the night. This kid is going to be great.

Next Game

The Leafs will head home and face the Ottawa Senators Saturday night.

4 Comments

skh's picture

Although Scrivens deserved that win, the rest of the team really did not. The lack of shots in the second and third gave me that unwelcomed feeling of basically just waiting for St Louis to score.

Marco Perruzza's picture

As Phaneuf said after the game it's not about how they win, it's about how many. Keep in mind the Blues played the same game in all three periods, but after the first the refs stopped calling penalties on them. I agree the Leafs played poorly, but they won on the road without their top goalie and without their top centre. Hopefully they can play better on Saturday.

skh's picture

All true.. But still.. 8 shots in 45 minutes (vs St Lou's 32 in the same timeframe)? Penalties or not, that ain't (usually) gonna cut it.

Marco Perruzza's picture

It usually won't cut it, but on this night it did. I'd prefer them to get outplayed like they did and win, then if they outshot the Blues 50-20 and lost. That win was big for the Leafs, look for them to come out with more jam Saturday. Also keep in mind the Leafs dominated the Panthers over the last two periods on Tuesday (shots were 31-14), yet they lost. In a long season you're going to win some games that you had no chance being in. Playoff teams get results like this. I'm not sitting here saying that the Leafs played well, I'm just saying that the Blues got away with murder last night. If the refs called the game the right way, their pressure style wouldn't have been as effective. The Leafs were thoroughly dominated the final two periods.