Preview: Maple Leafs at Blues
St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo isn't letting a brief misstep trip him up when considering where his team currently stands -- atop the Western Conference. The reigning Stanley Cup champion Blues bid to bounce back from a shutout loss when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
“Big picture, we’re in a good spot,” Pietrangelo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the heels of the Blues' 3-0 setback to Pittsburgh on Wednesday. “I think we’d all love to win 82 games. I don’t think any of us in this room are satisfied the way we played. But we’ll take these next couple days and get ready for Saturday." Tyler Bozak likely will be ready for the contest, as the 33-year-old has collected three points (one goal, two assists) over his last five games heading into the tilt versus the team with which he spent his first nine NHL seasons. Toronto opens a four-game road trip having dropping three of its last four and nine of 13 (4-8-1) to plummet to the league's version of .500 at 13-13-4. "We've gotten away from some of the things offensively we focused on in the early going and that has caused us to revert back to some things we don't necessarily like. We'll have to try to fix that," Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NHL Network, CBC, Sportsnet, Sportsnet 360, CITY, TVAS (Toronto), FS Midwest (St. Louis)
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (13-13-4): The return of Mitch Marner following an 11-game absence with a high ankle sprain did little to spark the sputtering offense of Toronto, which was limited to Zach Hyman's second-period goal during Wednesday's 3-1 setback to Colorado. Adding injury to insult was the loss of forward Andreas Johnsson, who underwent a CT scan on the leg injury he sustained while blocking a shot and will be placed on long-term injury reserve. The Maple Leafs addressed the loss by recalling forwards Nic Petan and Pontus Aberg and defenseman Martin Marincin from Toronto of the American Hockey League on Friday.
ABOUT THE BLUES (18-6-6): While Pietrangelo took a big-picture view after the loss to Pittsburgh, goaltender Jordan Binnington wasn't too keen to look past the immediate sting of the loss. "It wasn't good enough, we know that," Binnington said. "We've got better. It's not a good feeling ... it's frustrating. I hate losing, so I hate this feeling." St. Louis hasn't experienced that feeling in its last seven encounters with Toronto, capping the string of seven straight wins with a 3-2 decision on Oct. 7.
1. Toronto C Auston Matthews, who caused a stir by saying the team "quit" in a 6-1 loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday, has just one point in his last five games.
2. St. Louis F Jaden Schwartz has 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 10 career games versus the Maple Leafs while Pietrangelo has seven (three goals, four assists) in his last seven.
3. Maple Leafs captain John Tavares has answered three multi-point performances by being held off the scoresheet in two straight games.
PREDICTION: Maple Leafs 3, Blues 2