The Maple Leafs lost 3-2 in overtime to the NHL’s hottest team, the St. Louis Blues, on Tuesday night. They found energy in the second and third periods, though — Zach Hyman and Auston Matthews scoring in the third — and nearly stole the final stop on a six-game road trip, their longest of the season. After getting outshot 19-9 in the opening period, they held a 24-21 edge in the second and third and forced OT for a point, one of the toughest they’ve earned so far this season.
- Turning points: The Blues got goals from Jaden Schwartz and Colton Parayko in the first en route to their franchise-record 11th consecutive win. Hyman’s goal snapped the Blues’ shutout streak at 233:50 (three games, two periods, and almost seven minutes). Leaf Mitch Marner had a chance to win it on a solo rush in OT before the Blues came back on a two-on-one, with Ryan O’Reilly beating Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen low and off the post. “I thought we got our game going real well in the second and third,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought we did things real well to set up success, and I was impressed with a lot of our players.”
- Overpowered: Toronto was nearly buried in the first period, when the Blues dominated with a heavy game. The Leafs were pinned in their own end for 66 seconds in one stretch. Toronto’s defence corps struggled to handle the big Blues, who now have 35 points since Jan. 1, most in the NHL. The Blues’ 19 shots were the second-most they’ve managed in the opening period this season.
- Kadri hurt: Leafs centre Nazem Kadri took a huge hit from Blues defenceman Vince Dunn in the first period and stayed in the game for a while — with Brayden Schenn taking another run at him — then didn’t return for the second. The Leafs announced later that he had suffered a concussion will undergo protocol. More will be known in the next day or two.
- The stars: Andersen, for one. He was the reason the Leafs weren’t severely blown out in this one. Marner was spectacular, with that overtime effort and during two key penalty kills in the second and third. And linemates John Tavares and Zach Hyman also had big efforts. Matthews may have been the best player on the ice in the third period, but the Leafs’ best on offence was William Nylander. The winger opened up a lot of ice with his speed and playmaking, then did a good job centring the third line over the final two periods with Kadri out.
- What now? With the NHL trade deadline looming next Monday, this performance will do nothing to silence those who think the Leafs need more muscle. The current lineup isn’t built to answer physically when one of their own is decked. The only response after Dunn’s hit on Kadri was a cursory gesture from linemate Andreas Johnsson. Other teams see that.
- Blues cruise: The Blues were in last place on Jan. 3. Now they’re challenging for a wild card – and the way they’re playing, much more. Three of the last four wins in their record run have come by shutout, all with Richmond Hill’s Jordan Binnington in goal. The rookie has worked himself into Calder Trophy talk, now 13-1-1 with a .941 save percentage since taking over the goal in early January. Parayko’s goal was the 11th by a Blues defenceman in the last 11 games. They have a playoff look, a tribute to coach Craig Berube, who took over the reins back in November.
- Up next: The Leafs are back home Thursday, when the Washington Capitals pay a visit to Scotiabank Arena.