Preview: Blues at Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs blew a tire on the way to opening the season with three straight impressive victories and look to rebound from a major collapse when they host the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues on Monday. The Maple Leafs led by three goals with less than 15 minutes remaining on Saturday but gave up four straight tallies - one on a penalty shot - before losing 6-5 in a shootout at home against rival Montreal.
“That’s a game we have to put away,” Toronto captain John Tavares told reporters. “It’s disappointing, it’s going to leave a sour taste, but we have to re-group. We fought back, got the point, should have had the two. We had our opportunities, but we will learn from it.” The Blues have won six straight meetings with the Maple Leafs, including a 4-1 triumph at Toronto last October - well before they started their miraculous run in the second half of the season that ended with the team’s first championship. St. Louis coughed up a two-goal lead in losing to Washington 3-2 in overtime on Wednesday before Brayden Schenn and Sammy Blais scored in the third period to defeat Dallas by the same score three days later. “Yeah, It’s not going to be easy,” Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington told reporters. “People are going to be playing hard every game. But that’s the NHL, right? Every night is a tough game and there’s skill on every team, and you’ve got to be prepared. Just do your best and play hard for each other.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NHL Network, FS Midwest (St. Louis), TVA, TSN4 (Toronto)
ABOUT THE BLUES (1-0-1): Blais, who recorded four points in 32 games last season, has collected two goals and an assist to share the team lead in points with reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner Ryan O’Reilly. Defenseman Colton Parayko notched an assist on Saturday and leads the team with six shots in the first two games while newly acquired blue-liner Justin Faulk has set up one goal and registered five shots while primarily partnered with captain Alex Pietrangelo (399 career points). Binnington, who is 25-5-2 in 35 NHL games, has turned aside 58-of-63 shots in the first two contests this season.
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (2-0-1): Auston Matthews has scored five of the team’s 14 goals in its first three contests to lead the league and unleashed 16 shots while skating primarily on a line with Andreas Johnsson and William Nylander. Mitch Marner also has burst out of the gate after signing his new contract just before training camp, recording a pair of goals and three assists, while defenseman Morgan Rielly has set up five tallies. Frederik Andersen was rested Saturday and likely will be back in net against St. Louis after stopping 51-of-55 shots in his first two games.
1. Blues RW Vladimir Tarasenko is slated to play in his 500th NHL game on Monday while LW David Perron needs one goal to reach 200 for his career.
2. Toronto’s 24-year-old rookie RW Ilya Mikheyev has recorded a goal, two assists and a plus-3 rating in his first three NHL contests.
3. St. Louis C Robert Thomas sat out Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury and is considered day-to-day.
PREDICTION: Blues 3, Maple Leafs 2