The Toronto Maple Leafs were singing the blues after an exciting 3-2 OT loss to the red hot St. Louis Blues at the Enterprise Center Tuesday.
Ryan O’Reilly’s goal 34-seconds into OT after a Toronto turnover increased the Blues incredible win streak to 11-games, a franchise record. Even more remarkable is the Blues have not trailed in a game since February 5 or 493 minutes and 42 seconds, also a club best.
The Leafs came out flat looking very much like a team away from home for 12 days while the home side pounced on the sluggish travelers dominating the first 5-minutes. That was the most a team has manhandled the Leafs all season with very aggressive puck pursuit, took the body, and crisply moved the play at a very quick pace. The visitors looked overwhelmed at the onslaught and trailed by a pair after one on goals by Schwartz and a power play marker from Parayko. Popular ex-Leaf Tyler Bozak had assists on both goals and Alex Steen continued to make Toronto pay for trading him away years ago with a helper of his own.
The Leafs managed to keep the score close with some outstanding goaltending from Frederik Andersen but the Blues had no off switch and continued to press. Vince Dunn with as good an open ice hit you’ll ever see on Nazem Kadri sent the team’s fifth leading scorer the sidelines for the final two frames.
They did manage to find their legs in the middle period only to run into an equally solid goaltender in Jordan Binnington who has been instrumental in the Blues run of late.
The Leafs were finally rewarded with a couple lucky bounces that came as a result of reversing the game; doing to St Louis what they had thrown at the Leafs for 30-minutes. A Zach Hyman attempted feed to John Tavares at the goalmouth inadvertently deflected past a helpless Binnington and a couple minutes later a pass to Auston Matthews bounced off his skate and the game was tied. The Blues looked for goaltender interference on 34’s light but it didn’t take long for the officials to decide it was a good goal.
Both teams had chances in the dying minutes with the Leafs grateful for the comeback point and the Blues thinking they are a shot on goal against from this one slipping away.
Two equally skilled teams such as these don’t need long to decide the outcome in extra time and on cue after a missed opportunity at one end by Toronto, the Blues made no mistake converting at the other end.
Toronto will regroup for a day and enjoy some home time over the next week. With teams bunching up in the eastern conference they better play with a little of the desperation shown in the third period or they could be looking up very quickly.