There was extra hockey in Toronto on Thursday night when the Toronto Maple Leafs met the St. Louis Blues for the second time in a week. The Blues, having cleaned up agains the Leafs in their previous meeting, winning 5-1 – were looking to steal another two points from Toronto thanks in large part to a beautiful overtime effort by Vladimir Tarasenko.
While it may be too early for some to scoreboard watch as we head into the final few months of the NHL season, both teams needed the big two points out of this contest. The Leafs were looking to stay ahead of the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, while the Blue were looking to stay on top of the Flames in the wild card race in the West.
Even with the loss, there were positives to take from the game for Toronto. Frederik Andersen seemed to get his game back on track and they were able to pick up a single point with the overtime loss which does help them maintain position in the Atlantic.
On the other side, the Blues had to be happy with another stellar performance from Jake Allen. Allen made 31 saves in the win, including a number of tough ones against some of the Leafs top youngsters in Auston Matthews and William Nylander.
The Maple Leafs opened the game using their quickness to open up the game. That seemingly created chance after chance for the boys in blue and white in the opening frame, but a post and a few great saves by Jake Allen and the Leafs couldn’t bulge the twine.
In fact, the Leafs managed just four shots on goal in the first period while the Blues were able to fired 17 pucks on Andersen in the opening frame.
While the Leafs were able to create a number of giveaways that ultimately led to their scoring chances, Toronto also gave the puck up quite often. That proved costly for the home team. Just four minutes into the game, the Leafs handed the puck over in their own end and it came back to Patrik Berglund in the high slot.
Berglund hesitate just slightly before firing a wrister towards Andersen and it caught the far side of the net behind the Leafs goaltender. The goal was Berglund’s 14th of the season and gave the Blues a 1-0 lead early.
— Cristiano Simonetta (@CMS_74_) February 10, 2017
Matthews took the only penalty of the period, but the Blues weren’t able to capitalize. St. Louis got just one shot on their power play – one of 40 shots Andersen faced in the game – but the Blues still took the one-goal lead into the break.
The second period was much the same. Both teams picked up 14 shots in the period, exchanging scoring opportunities without success.
That was until the latter part of the period. While the rookies have taken the reins in Toronto for the most part this season, it was a young, veteran defenceman who got the Leafs on the board in the second period.
With just over a minute left in the period, Morgan Rielly picked up the loose puck high in the slot and fired it into the open cage behind Allen to tie the game at 1-1.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) February 10, 2017
The goal was just his second of the year and his first in 32 games – his last coming back on November 11.
The goalie battle continued in the third with Andersen getting back to his old self and Allen looking more like the goalie that St. Louis hoped he could be.
Allen faced another 14 shots stopping all of them, while Andersen saw eight in the final frame and made all eight stops.
While both clubs were able to manufacture multiple chances, the goaltenders both stood on their heads to keep the score tied throughout the period.
Alex Pietrangelo took a holding penalty about eight minutes into the period – just the second penalty of the game for either team. However, it wasn’t at the ideal time for the Blues. That being said, St. Louis killed off the Leafs power play and it led to a great opportunity for them.
As Pietrangelo exited the box, the puck came to him and he was sent in alone on Andersen. The Leafs’ net minder stood tall on the breakaway and followed it up by another big save to keep the game tied.
While it was a somewhat eventful third, both keepers earned their respective teams a point as this game headed to overtime.
It didn’t take long for this game to concluded once the puck was dropped in overtime. In fact, it was just 20 second into the extra frame when Tarasenko weaved through all three Leafs on the ice and fired the puck past Andersen to earn the extra point for the Blues – and an important one at that.
Tarasenko. What a goal to end it. Blues take it 2-1 in OT. pic.twitter.com/pGVEAhtt4w
— Jimes Tooper (@e_presement) February 10, 2017
STL – Patrik Berglund (14) assisted by Magnus Paajarvi and Jaden Schwartz
TOR – Morgan Rielly (2) assisted by William Nylander and Nazem Kadri
STL – Vladimir Tarasenko (26) assisted by Jori Lehtera and Kevin Shattenkirk
THW Three Stars
First: Vladimir Tarasenko (OTG and 3 shots)
Second: Frederik Andersen (38 saves)
Third: Jake Allen (31 saves and the win)
Buffalo Sabres at Toronto Maple Leafs
Air Canada Centre – 7:00 p.m. EST – Saturday, February 11
Broadcast channels – CBC and MSG-B
2016-17 Season Series: Maple Leafs lead 2-0-0