TORONTO – Luke Schenn seized his moment in the spotlight.
The Toronto Maple Leafs first-round draft pick scored the shootout winner on Monday night to give his team a 4-3 pre-season victory over the St. Louis Blues.
Fans at the Air Canada Centre chanted, “Luuukkke” when the defenceman was selected as a shooter. The 19-year-old calmly then skated in and beat Manny Legace with a backhand deke move.
Niklas Hagman, with two, and Alex Steen scored in regulation for Toronto (2-2-1).
Brad Boyes, David Backes and Andy McDonald replied for the Blues (2-2-1).
There wasn’t much energy in the Air Canada Centre early in a matchup between two teams expected to be among the bottom-dwellers in their respective conferences.
Unfortunately for fans of the Maple Leafs, that might be a trend this season. The home side had trouble creating offence until coach Ron Wilson shook up his lines for the final period and got some results.
Less than two minutes after Backes fired a low shot through Vesa Toskala’s legs to put St. Louis up 2-1, Steen tied the score. He skated hard to the net and batted the puck behind Manny Legace at 7:55 after the Blues goalie had stopped Nik Antropov on a breakaway.
Hagman’s second of the night at 10:42 of the third period put Toronto ahead 3-2. He came out from the side of the goal and slid the puck around Legace.
However, the Leafs gave up a third period lead for the third straight game. McDonald got free from defenceman Pavel Kubina and tipped a nice Lee Stempniak pass behind Toskala at 11:46.
The game had opened up and the chances kept coming. Maple Leafs forward Jiri Tlusty broke down the wing with less than a minute to play in the final period before Legace managed to come up with a nice glove save.
Toronto had the best chance to end the game in overtime after Blues defenceman Eric Brewer was sent to the penalty box. Legace managed to get his glove on a Tomas Kaberle shot, setting the stage for the shootout.
It was an exciting finish to a game that got off to a dull start.
Boyes, the former Leafs first-round draft pick, opened the scoring after collecting the puck at his own blue-line and breaking in on a 2-on-1. His attempted pass was accidentally swept behind Toskala by Leafs defenceman Ian White at 6:06 of the first period.
Toronto tied the game 1-1 with a good bounce of its own. Hagman was battling Blues defenceman Roman Polak in front of the goal and had the puck go in off his right skate at 11:10 of the second period.
Notes: Former Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson, now San Jose’s director of pro scouting, attended the game … Earlier in the day, Toronto assigned seven players to the AHL Marlies – including Bates Battaglia, Kris Newbury and Ben Ondrus. … Matt Stajan, Jason Blake, Ryan Hollweg, Dominic Moore and Jeff Finger sat out for the Leafs. … Yan Stastny, Andy Wozniewski, Steve Wagner and David Perron didn’t play for St. Louis. … The Blues will play a rare afternoon game at Air Canada Centre when they visit the Maple Leafs on Oct. 13.