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