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Blues host improved Maple Leafs team on Saturday

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

ST. LOUIS - After dropping their first home game of the season on Thursday night against the Flyers, the St. Louis Blues look to rebound in Saturday's 6 p.m. game against the Toronto Maple Leafs (FSMW, FSGO, KMOX).

The Blues' 10-3-1 start has them sitting in first place in the Central Division, five points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets. The Blues remain tied for the Western Conference lead, too, with 21 points.

"We're going to play a desperate team," Blues Head Coach Mike Yeo said of the Toronto Maple Leafs. "We're going to have to come to the rink focused and prepare to play our game for 60 minutes. On a night-to-night basis in the NHL, not much separates you from the team that's across from you, so you better be ready to be on top of your game."

The Toronto Maple Leafs fell to 8-6-0 on the season after a 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night. The Kings jumped out to a 5-0 lead before the Maple Leafs started to chip away. Auston Matthews, Morgan Rielly and Connor Brown scored to make things interesting.

Toronto currently holds third place in the Atlantic Division and are trying to build off last season's playoff appearance, where they pushed the No. 1 seeded Washington Capitals to six games in the first round.

Video: Blues Gameday Live for Nov. 4

"You look at Matthews, some of the young players they have there, their surrounding players, it's speed and skill," Yeo added. "They play a very fast-paced game. With (Head Coach Mike) Babcock, they're always going to be well-structured and well-coached. They're a team I believe has a real knack for dialing up the tempo and the pace of the game. Their transition game is as good as anybody's, so it will be a real fun test."

The Blues won both matchups against the Maple Leafs last season, outscoring Toronto 7-2. The Blues have earned points in five of their last six home games against the Maple Leafs (4-1-1) and have killed off 24 of Toronto's last 26 power-play attempts.

The Blues rank second in the NHL with a 2.29 goals-against average per game, while the Leafs rank second in the NHL with 3.79 goals per game.

"They've changed a ton since I was there," said Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, who played for the Maple Leafs from 2009 until 2014. "We know they've got a speedy team, a lot of guys that try to outplay you one on one. That's something we'll look at, and get to our game plan a little bit more. They're obviously better than their last couple of years."

HOT VS. TORONTO

- Vladimir Tarasenko has a goal in five straight games against the Leafs

- Jaden Schwartz has six points in six career games against Toronto (two goals, four assists)

- Alexander Steen has 15 points in 11 career games against Toronto (six goals, nine assists)

Video: Dunn on facing Toronto

- Paul Stastny has six points in his last five games against the Maple Leafs (three goals, three assists)

- Jake Allen is 2-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and a .966 save-percentage in his last two starts against the Maple Leafs

BLUE NOTES

- Allen is 10-2-1 in his last 13 home starts, posting a 2.02 goals-against average and a .931 save-percentage.

- Alex Pietrangelo ranks first in the League among points by a defenseman with 13 (four goals, nine assists).

- Blues fans can arrive Saturday at 4 p.m. to enjoy food specials, $5 Anheuser-Busch products and live music from Feel Good Inc. between Sections 120 and 126. The specials end at 5 p.m.

- Author Dan O'Neill and Blues legend Bob Plager will be signing copies of O'Neill's book - When the Blues Go Marching IN: An Illustrated Timeline of St. Louis Blues Hockey - from 5 to 7 p.m. at the True Blues Team Authentics Vintage Store located outside Section 118.

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