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Leafs top Blues 3-2 in shootout

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- Ben Scrivens is listed as 6-foot-2 and 192 pounds. He probably looked a lot bigger than that to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Scrivens, making only his third NHL start, played by far the best game of his brief career, stopping 37 shots in regulation and all three St. Louis shootout attempts to help the Toronto Maple Leafs steal two points with a 3-2 win.

Phil Kessel had the only goal in the tiebreaker for the Leafs, who snapped a two-game slide.

The Blues have never seen Scrivens before, and since the two teams play in different conferences, he hadn't seen much of them either.

"It's a double-edged sword," Scrivens said of the lack of familiarity on both sides. "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."

John-Michael Liles and Kessel scored first-period power-play goals and Tyler Bozak added a pair of assists for the Leafs, who had been outscored 12-1 in their previous two games.

"The first period was maybe our best period of the season," said Leafs coach Ron Wilson, whose team outshot the Blues 14-8 in the opening 20 minutes.

He couldn't have been happy with the next 45 minutes -- St. Louis outshot Toronto 32-8 the rest of the way but managed only goals from Jason Arnott and Patrik Berglund, who forced overtime by connecting with 1:56 left in the third period.

Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak stopped 20 shots but made several key stops on Kessel in the first period to keep his team from falling further behind.

"When it was 2-0, (Halak) made a couple big saves there, one at the end of the period," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It was a good sign for us, a good save."

After the Blues' initial push in which they took the first three shots off of Scrivens, the Leafs picked up their game and outskated the Blues, drawing three power plays and scoring on two of them.

"We were just reaching (in the first period)," Hitchcock said. "We were riding and reaching. We weren't engaged with our feet, and then when we got engaged, then they started taking all the penalties. Those are good lessons for us."

Liles took a pass from Dion Phaneuf and beat Halak from the right circle with a low, hard shot to the stick side 11:27 into the game. Kessel put Toronto up 2-0 at 17:02 when he deflected Joffrey Lupul's shot over Halak on the Leafs' third power play of the period. The Leafs came into the game having scored on only one of their last 16 power-play chances.

Whatever Hitchcock said between periods must have worked -- they began to dominate play. Arnott sliced the lead in half with a power-play goal at 8:01 on a pinpoint feed from Alex Pietrangelo into the slot.

Scrivens, after a shaky start in which he gave up some gaudy rebounds, made big stops on Alex Steen early in the third and David Backes from right in front midway through the period.

"He played great," Liles said of Scrivens. "He made the big saves and made saves when we needed them. He obviously was a rock in the shootout."

The Blues continued to push, even getting a late power play but could not convert, as Patrik Berglund's redirection skimmed off the outside of the left post. But Berglund earned the Blues a point when he banged a rebound past Scrivens to force OT.

"I was in kind of desperation mode," Scrivens said. "They made a good play and they just funneled it to the net."

The Blues threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Leafs but couldn't get the winner.

"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."

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