The Toronto Maple Leafs scored in bunches through seven games, but the St. Louis Blues showed that goals don’t always come that easily.
Ryan O’Reilly scored his first goal with St. Louis, and Jake Allen made 22 saves as the Blues beat the Maple Leafs 4-1 on Saturday night.
Robert Bortuzzo, Zach Sanford and Ivan Barbashev also scored, and David Perron added two assists for St. Louis, which picked up its second victory in seven games this season.
Morgan Rielly scored for Toronto. Frederik Andersen stopped 21 of 24 shots as the Leafs dropped consecutive games after five straight wins.
“We scored early, we scored easy, it was pretty loose and everything was great,” said Leafs head coach Mike Babcock. “Now we’re finding out it’s the NHL, it’s hard to score, teams compete hard on you, teams adjust and they’re going to play you hard. We’ve got to get our mojo back by going to work and we’ll do that.
“Not good enough.”
Toronto had scored an NHL-high 33 goals in seven games to open the season. The Maple Leafs, however, were shut out by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday and were scoreless in two periods against the Blues, going 116 minutes 37 seconds without a goal until Rielly cut the deficit to 3-1 early in the third.
“There have been some adjustments by our opponents,” said Toronto centre John Tavares, who finished with two shot attempts. “We have to stick to what we do well and can’t get away from it.
“We know teams are going to adjust and teams are going to try and make it tough on us.”
The game marked the return of centre Tyler Bozak, who left for St. Louis as a free agent this summer after nine seasons with the Leafs.
The Blues came into the game with just one win in their first six games, after an off-season roster overhaul that saw Bozak, O’Reilly, Perron and Pat Maroon brought in. St. Louis was convinced it was close to putting things together, despite early season struggles.
After a scoreless first period, St. Louis went ahead at 4:45 of the second when Bortuzzo’s point shot went off the stick of Toronto defenceman Travis Dermott and bounced past Andersen.
Andersen made a nice stop on Brayden Schenn later in the period, but could do nothing on Sanford’s high shot at 13:05 that made it 2-0.
O’Reilly picked up in a blockbuster trade with the Buffalo Sabres in the off season, then scored his first for St. Louis at 16:37, when he was left alone in front, took a pass from Vladimir Tarasenko and beat Andersen as a Leafs penalty expired.
“That looked a lot more like the St. Louis Blues,” said head coach Mike Yeo, whose team snapped a three-game slide. “The guys came out [and] gave us a great response.”
The Leafs, who were outshot by the Blues 13-8 through the first 40 minutes, had 1:32 of a power play to start the third. But Nazem Kadri’s shot in tight hit Allen and then the post.
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Rielly, who came in leading NHL defence in scoring with 10 points, scored at 4:22 of the third when his shot from the slot squeezed through Allen for his fourth.
The Leafs’ top-ranked power play went to work again with 7:10 left in regulation, but Allen stopped Patrick Marleau on the doorstep before Toronto’s Andreas Johnsson went off for holding the stick with seven seconds left in the man advantage.
The Leafs pulled Andersen with just over three minutes remaining, and a Jaden Schwartz penalty made for a 6-on-4 advantage. But Allen and the Blues hung tough before Barbashev scored into an empty net with 1:43 remaining as Toronto fell to 2-3-0 at home.
Toronto: At Winnipeg on Wednesday.
St. Louis: At Winnipeg on Monday.