TORONTO – Andy McDonald and Brad Boyes scored in a shootout to give the St. Louis Blues a 5-4 comeback win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday afternoon.
Storming back from an early 3-0 deficit and helped in their rally by a silly Ryan Hollweg boarding major, the Blues tied the game 4-4 at 4:21 of the third period on Paul Kariya’s backhander to set up the dramatic finish in the only meeting of the season between the teams.
Manny Legace stopped Nik Antropov, allowed a goal to Nikolai Kulemin and then stoned Pavel Kubina in the shootout to win it. Vesa Toskala was beaten by both St. Louis shooters.
Boyes, Patrik Berglund and Keith Tkachuk also scored for the Blues (2-1-0), who were looking for a stronger effort following a 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday.
Tomas Kaberle, Nikolai Kulemin, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Niklas Hagman scored for the Maple Leafs (1-2-0), who played a much stronger game after getting blasted 6-1 Saturday by the Montreal Canadiens but couldn’t finish the deal.
Early on it looked like the Thanksgiving Day crowd of 19,045, enjoying a rare afternoon game at the Air Canada Centre, would be treated to a rout from the home side. The Maple Leafs were in complete control of this one after the first period, outshooting the Blues 15-3 while building a 3-0 lead.
But the visitors came out aggressively to start the second, with Boyes banging in a rebound 33 seconds in after Toskala robbed McDonald to make it a 3-1 game.
St. Louis kept picking up the pace and was pressing when Hollweg’s indiscretion put the Leafs in the hole.
Back after serving a two-game suspension for collecting three boarding penalties in a 41-game span, he earned himself another suspension 2:23 into the second for slamming Blues rookie Alex Pietrangelo into the boards from behind.
Pietrangelo may have somewhat turned into the hit, but Hollweg’s track record means he’ll never get the benefit of the doubt. A fourth boarding major will likely earn Hollweg an automatic three-game suspension from the NHL, but the immediate impact of his carelessness allowed the Blues to tie the game up.
Berglund shovelled in a rebound past a prone Toskala at 4:47 while Tkachuk buried a beautiful cross-ice feed from Kariya at 5:35 to make it 3-3. The Leafs have given up seven power-play goals so far this season.
“The coaches are working with him,” Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher said of Hollweg during the second intermission. “Hey, he doesn’t want to be out of the lineup, either. .
“I’m not sure what will happen . I’m sure I’ll hear from the league (Tuesday).”
Hagman restored the Leafs lead at the 14-minute mark, taking a pass from John Mitchell after Jamal Mayers won a faceoff and firing a shot over Legace’s blocker.
Still, the Blues flurry provided a jolting wake-up call after the dream start the Maple Leafs had in the first period.
They began burying the bad memories from Saturday just 3:22 in, when Kaberle collected a pretty cross-ice slap pass from Mike Van Ryn and wired it past a prone Legace five seconds after a power play had expired.
Kulemin put them up 2-0 at 14:06 when he took a pass from Nik Antropov, who stripped the puck from Jay McClement at the St. Louis blue-line, walked in and whipped a backhander over Legace’s glove.
Ponikarovsky redirected Jason Blake’s centring pass from the corner over Legace at 16:10.
Notes: Hollweg’s return to the Leafs lineup sent Matt Stajan to the pressbox, ending the centre’s streak of 178 straight games played. Anton Stralman played his first game of the season in place of fellow blue-liner Jonas Frogren, who hurt a foot blocking a shot Saturday. Stralman played over Ian White. . Blues RW Lee Stempniak missed his second straight game after tweaking his left knee during the first period of Friday’s 5-2 win over Nashville. LW Dwayne King and D Mike Weaver were also scratched. . Leafs forward Jamal Mayers faced the Blues for the first time since his trade to Toronto in June. He spent his first 10 NHL seasons in St. Louis.