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Kadri, Sparks help Maple Leafs defeat Blues

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- Nazem Kadri scored twice and the Toronto Maple Leafs ended a three-game road trip with a 4-1 win against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center on Saturday.

Brad Boyes and PA Parenteau had goals, Roman Polak and Leo Komarov each had two assists and Garret Sparks made 27 saves for the Maple Leafs (9-13-5). It was the third straight start for Sparks, who helped Toronto end a three-game road losing streak.

It was Toronto's first win at St. Louis since Nov. 11, 2011 and the first time the Maple Leafs defeated the Blues in regulation since Feb. 6, 2007; St. Louis was 7-0-2 in that stretch.

"We're a relentless group," Kadri said. "We're starting to become better with adversity than we used to be. That's a contending team right there, they're a great team, one of the better teams in the League and we came in here and got a solid road win."

The Maple Leafs were able to regroup after an inauspicious first 15 minutes to the game and score four unanswered goals.

"That's definitely not the way we are looking to come out on the road, but we came back, we battled all night, got some good bounces. [Kadri] played great, [Sparks] played great and we got two points," Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly said. "That's all that matters."

Vladimir Tarasenko scored for St. Louis (15-8-4), which lost its third in a row (0-2-1) and fifth in the past seven games (2-2-3). Jake Allen made 25 saves; he was replaced by Brian Elliott after Toronto's third goal for 2:18 before coming back in the game.

The Blues have scored one goal in each of their past three games.

"I think it's been hard all year, to be honest with you," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of the lack of scoring. "It's been one or two guys (scoring). It's been the same two or three people that have done it.

"I think if you look at it, we do need a lot more help from other people, a lot more contribution from other people throughout the lineup, but it's been like that all year. We've had to live with that. We've had to live on this edge for a little while, and now the part that bothers me is we're leaving the edge. We played a definitive way and now we're getting away from it trying to create things that aren't there. It's the mental toughness to stay with it, to stay on the program, to demand that you stay on the program and I think good things happen. We're deviating from the program. As soon as we don't have success, we start deviating from the program."

Boyes, who was screening Allen, tipped a Roman Polak shot from the right point at 6:11 of the second period to give Toronto the lead for good at 2-1. It was Polak's first multipoint game since Nov. 20, 2014 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Parenteau's first goal in eight games came off a delayed penalty call after Tyler Bozak's shot was blocked in the slot and Parenteau came in and put a backhand five-hole at 8:57 for a 3-1 lead.

Kadri's second of the game came off a 2-on-1 during a 4-on-4 situation, and he beat Allen five-hole from in tight at 6:47 of the third period to make it 4-1.

The Blues, a night after playing on the road at the New York Islanders, had the first six shots on goal and 10 of the first 12.

Tarasenko's 15th goal came off a 2-on-1 passing play with Paul Stastny. Tarasenko took the initial pass, skated into the slot and beat Sparks five-hole 1:51 into the game.

The Blues had multiple chances to extend the lead, but Sparks denied a Stastny chance with a sprawling left pad, then thwarted Backes, who tried to beat him five-hole on a breakaway after a line change.

"If we play the right way, that's the volume that we get over the course of the game," Backes said. "Even if you're shooting 10 percent, you're going to score four goals. We've just got to keep our nose to the grindstone and find that full 60-minute game because right now, 10 minutes to start, we're not going to blow teams away where they quit after 10 minutes. It just doesn't happen in this League."

Toronto tied the game late in the first when Allen couldn't handle Komarov's initial shot. It was loose in the slot and popped to Kadri, who got it past Allen on a rebound with 1:17 remaining in the first to make it 1-1.

The Maple Leafs found their bearings once they tied the game and took advantage of a Blues team that lost a 2-1 shootout at the Islanders on Friday.

"It was nice [Friday] night. I had a nice dinner at some steak place in town, watched two periods there and then went home and crawled into the sheets while [Hitchcock] was working on the road and then he had a 50-minute drive to the airport," said Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock, a close friend of Hitchcock. "It was 9:46 (p.m.) when the guys were leaving the ice. I love that stuff because we play every Saturday night at home after a road trip on Friday, so what goes around comes around once in a while."

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