Goalie thwarts St. Louis in shootout, stops 38 shots to help Toronto snap skid
By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- If the Blues could eliminate the first period from the five-minute mark on, this hockey game is no contest.
But how often do the words "60 minutes" seem to echo around the walls of Scottrade Center or any visiting building the Blues go into?
Forty-five minutes, plus the five-minute overtime, the Blues made the Toronto Maple Leafs look pretty pedestrian. But there comes a time when a goalie simply is called upon to steal a game.
The Blues' Alex Steen (right) is thwarted by Toronto goalie Ben Scrivens
in a shootout attempt Thursday night.
Enter the Leafs' Ben Scrivens. Unknown. Rookie. He's 6-foot-2, 192-pounds. Making his third NHL start and fourth game of his career.
Consider the two points the Leafs earned tonight stolen. Call it grand larceny.
Scrivens stopped all three shootout attempts and made 38 saves overall, while Phil Kessel scored the lone shootout goal in a 3-2 victory for the Leafs Thursday night at Scottrade Center.
The Blues (7-7-1) started off and looked like they were skating through slush. The Leafs (10-5-1) outshot the Blues 14-8 in the opening 20 minutes and induced three minor penalties, scoring on two of them.
They led 2-0 on goals by John-Michael Liles and Kessel, his league-leading 12th goal of the season. But somewhere, the Blues reversed the game around -- or in hockey terms, tilted the ice the other way -- and wound up outshooting the Leafs 32-8 the rest of the way.
They got goals from Jason Arnott and Patrik Berglund, but didn't get Berglund's goal until 1 minute 56 seconds left in the game because Scrivens -- who looked wobbly early on -- turned away quality chance after quality chance.
"The first five minutes of the first period, the second, third and overtime, there was a lot of good stuff ... really good stuff," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "You're thinking that if you outshoot somebody 31-8 in the last 40 minutes, then you're going to win a lot of hockey games. But the goalie was good and we missed a few chances.
"We bucked up in the second and third periods and really played. It's one of those points that you've got to say is a good point, but disappointing when you've got a team on the ropes like that and you get a chance to bury them because we really had them on the ropes."
Scrivens came into the game with a 4.04 goals-against average and a paltry .867 save percentage. You wouldn't have known it by some of the stops he made Thursday, and capped it off by making a sprawling stop on Alex Steen in the shootout, followed by T.J. Oshie and Matt D'Agostini.
"It's a double-edged sword," Scrivens said. "They don't know much about me. Also, I don't know much about them so I just tried to get out there and stay big and try and track the puck and force them to beat me with a good move or a good shot."
Scrivens stopped Steen and David Backes in the third period.
"We battled back hard," said Arnott, who tallied his fourth goal of the year to get the Blues on the board in the second period with a power play goal. "It's unfortunate, but we'll take the point and look at the positives in the game and look at the negatives tomorrow and move on."
Jaroslav Halak, who only saw eight shots after the first period, prevented the Blues from getting down early, making two crucial saves on Kessel in tight and keeping it from being a 3- or 4-0 Leafs lead.
"We have to clean up a few things on the PK," Halak said. "If we can do it, the second and third period was great from our side.
"When you get behind 2-0, especially in the NHL, it's really a hard league to play in trying to catch the other team."
The Blues got back to the play that made them look impressive in their win over Chicago Tuesday. It just wasn't enough to grab that extra point .. the one Scrivens ripped away from them.
"I thought we did a good job of funneling pucks to the net," Steen said. "We just missed our opportunities. I had one, (Berglund) had a really good one. It ended up costing us the game.
"Good two periods, but I think we should have had the two points. The truth is, we walked away with one. Now we move forward."
* NOTES -- Blues defenseman Barret Jackman's two-minute minor at the end of the second period put him at 801 penalty minutes for his NHL career. ... Arnott has 34 points in 39 career games against the Leafs. ... The Blues scratched defenseman Nikita Nikitin and winger Chris Porter. ... Speaking of Nikitin, there's been rampant speculation that the Blues dealt the D-man to Columbus after the game for fellow defenseman Kris Russell. Multiple outlets have reported the deal as done, but the Blues nor Columbus made no official announcement as of Thursday night. The deal is likely to be announced on Friday. Nikitin, who's making $600,000 on a one-year deal, has been a healthy scratch eight of the last nine games.