The St. Louis Blues turned in a dominating performance Thursday night at Scottrade Center, blasting the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3. The Blues are now 13-2-2 on home ice and 10-2 versus Eastern Conference teams this season. Brian Elliott made his second consecutive start, both winners, and stopped 19 of 22 Toronto shots improving his record to 6-1-1.
St. Louis was flying right out of the gate, eager to show they can skate, score and hit with the best of them. It didn’t hurt that their opponent was actually one of the worst of them and the Blues took charge barely 5-minutes in and never looked back. David Backes scored the first of his 2 goals on the night thanks to hard work by the top line, again. Alexander Steen made a perfect feed to Backes who snapped a shot past James Reimer.
The Blues would add two more 1st period goals, by Jaden Schwartz and Derek Roy, each their 8th of the season. Schwartz assisted on Roy’s tally and finished the night with 3 points tying a career high. Roy continues to prove his worth, having signed a 1-year, $4 million contract over the summer. His play-making and scoring abilities have found chemistry with a variety of linemates already for the Blues.
The Blues were up 3-0 after one period of play and out-shot the Leafs 16-7 in the first, chasing Reimer from the game only 16-minutes in. Jonathan Bernier fared only slightly better in relief. Chris Stewart would put St. Louis up 4-0 just 29 seconds into the 2nd frame. Schwartz sprung the Blues rush with an outlet pass on the tape of Vladimir Sobotka who faked Mark Fraser right out of his equipment and fed the streaking Stewart for the score.
The goal was an excellent example of how well Sobie and Schwartz have been playing together lately, leading to 12 points in 11 games for Schwartz. Stewie seems to have found an excellent fit on that line, each forward feeding off the confidence of the others. They finished the game with 2 goals and 6 points between them.
Steener scored his 22nd of the season in the 3rd period, a wicked wrister that he sniped from the slot, cutting across the ice. No one, least of all Bernier, anticipated the shot and it was in the net before the ex-LA King netminder could react putting the Blues up 5-1. Toronto would try to make things interesting, scoring twice in the final six minutes on a defensive lapse by the Blues and a fluke bounce off the shin pad of Alex Pietrangelo. It was too little, too late though, and Backes sealed the victory with an unlikely empty net goal with under a minute to play.
The captain was finishing a long shift late in the game and simply trying to clear the puck, but banked it perfectly off the side-boards for his 15th goal of the season. Backes finished Thursday night with 29 points in 30 games, something it took him all 48 games of last season to reach. His leadership and scoring have been instrumental in the hot start for St. Louis this season.
The Blues played their game and made the Leafs pay for it, dominating in the face-off circle and out-shooting Toronto 36-22 on the night. It was never really as close as the 6-3 score would indicate and St. Louis will look to feed off the energy of the win as they travel to Columbus for a Saturday tilt with the Blue Jackets. Jaroslav Halak is healthy and will start in goal for the Blues in Columbus.
GO BLUES! LONG LIVE THE NOTE!