Maple Leafs-Blues Preview

The high-scoring Alexander Steen was once a first-round draft

pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who could have used his help in

recent games.

The St. Louis Blues winger will instead try for another

successful performance against the Maple Leafs on Thursday

night.

Toronto (16-13-3) has posted one of the lowest goal-scoring

averages in the league (2.09) during its 3-6-2 stretch and has a

combined three goals in back-to-back losses. The Leafs outshot

visiting Los Angeles 39-23 on Wednesday, but Cody Franson had the

only goal in a 3-1 loss.

Toronto gave up two goals in the final 11 minutes and has been

outscored 15-3 in the final periods of its last 11 games.

“They’re down because we had so many opportunities, so many

offensive chances,” coach Randy Carlyle said. “If we continue to

apply that type of work ethic, we’ll win our share of games, but

it’s like pushing a snowball. Every time you lose, it gets

bigger.”

The Blues (20-6-3), meanwhile, have won two of three after Kevin

Shattenkirk scored the tiebreaking goal with 3:02 remaining in

Tuesday’s 2-1 victory in Winnipeg.

“We outfought for three pucks just to get that opportunity,

which is what happened for the whole third period, which was really

impressive,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “As the game wore on, our

confidence came back to fight for pucks and to battle.”

Steen tallied his 21st goal in the second period and ended a

four-game drought. He is now three goals away from matching his

career high set in 68 games in 2009-10, his first full season in

St. Louis.

Steen, the 24th overall pick in the 2002 draft, had 50 goals and

76 assists in 253 games for Toronto before being dealt to the Blues

along with defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo on Nov. 24, 2008. Steen has

totaled 94 goals and 116 assists in the 313 games since, but this

is shaping up to be easily his most productive campaign.

Steen will next try to add to his two goals in three career

matchups with the Maple Leafs. He and the Blues are facing Toronto

for the first time since a 3-2 shootout loss in St. Louis on Nov.

10, 2011.

Toronto has won the past two meetings in shootouts after losing

eight of 10, and Phil Kessel tallied a combined three goals in

those games. Kessel, who had the shootout winner in the most recent

meeting, had four goals and four assists during a six-game point

streak that was snapped in a 5-2 loss to Boston on Sunday, and he

was credited with an assist in Wednesday’s defeat.

Before earning its victory in Winnipeg, St. Louis had a

season-high five-game home win streak end with a 5-2 loss to

Anaheim on Saturday. The Blues are 12-2-2 at home this season and

8-1-1 in their last 10 games there.

Steen has registered 22 of his 33 points at home (12 goals, 10

assists), and T.J. Oshie has two goals and nine assists during a

six-game point streak at the Scottrade Center.

Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf will be wrapping up his two-game

suspension Thursday for a boarding penalty in Sunday’s loss to

Boston.