TORONTO – Keith Tkachuk didn’t waste away any time collecting his first multi-goal game of the season.
The St. Louis Blues centre scored two goals, both on redirections, within the first six minutes of Tuesday night’s 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“It was nice to get a few off the hop,” said Tkachuk, who scored on the first two shots of the game for St. Louis.
The two-time 50-goal scorer – granted, the last time was in 1995-96 – has 15 goals and 37 points in 49 games this season. The two goals against the Maple Leafs also represented his first multi-point game in exactly a month. He had two assists at Dallas against the Stars on Dec. 29.
“When things aren’t going in, you just have to get to the net,” said Tkachuk, who also scored 40-plus goals twice and 30-plus goals four times. “Fortunately, I found a way. You just have to keep plugging away, you can’t change your game.”
Tkachuk got on the board quickly, tipping defenceman Bryce Salvador’s shot past Leafs goatender Vesa Toskala at 1:18 of the first period. The game was delayed for a couple minutes as officials checked whether Tkachuk’s stick was too high when he tipped the puck. They ruled his stick was below the crossbar when he deflected it past Toskala.
“Yeah, I was a little concerned about it because it was right on the borderline of being a high stick, but fortunately I was out away from the net a little bit,” Tkachuk said.
Less than five minutes later, Tkachuk was at it again.
This time, the 35-year-old power forward barged to the net and tipped defenceman Jay McKee’s shot past Toskala at 5:41.
“Keith went to the net hard and created a presence,” said Blues coach Andy Murray. “He made sure there was traffic on the first goal, too.”
Tkachuk has 488 goals and 963 points 1,023 NHL games his career, which began in 1991-92 with the Winnipeg Jets. Earlier this season, Tkachuk, a native of Melrose, Mass., became the 28th American-born NHLer to play 1,000 games. He’s also a three-time U.S. Olympian.