Schwartz, a 21-year-old left winger, scored a goal and added two
assists to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 6-3 win over the Toronto
Maple Leafs, the second time this season and in his career Schwartz
registered a three-point game.
"I think he's finally feeling confident and comfortable in his
role," Backes, the Blues captain and center, said of Schwartz, a
former first-round draft pick who has 12 points in his past 11
games. "He's got as good a shot as anyone and works his butt off. As
short and stout as he is, he goes up against the biggest guys and
comes out of the corners with pucks. It's inspiring the way those
Led by Backes and Schwartz, the Blues raced to a 3-0 lead over the
Maple Leafs, who pulled goalie James Reimer just 16:10 into the game
after the third St. Louis goal of the opening period.
It was the seventh time in 30 games this season the Blues chased a
Schwartz led the effort, which came after a series of recent bad
first periods by the Blues.
"We jumped on them early and got a lot of second-chance
opportunities," said Schwartz, who scored the second St. Louis goal
when he knocked his own rebound past Reimer, who lost his stick on
the play. "When you're working hard, good things are going to happen
most nights. We've had a few games with bad starts against good
teams. They played last night, so we wanted to make sure we got on
Toronto coach Randy Carlyle knew that was going to be the Blues'
strategy after the Maple Leafs had a tough home game Wednesday night
against the Los Angeles Kings, but he said his team was not ready
"Tonight looked like we were totally brain dead in a lot of areas,"
Carlyle said. "I don't know any other way to describe it. We didn't
win enough of the down-low confrontations. They had a lot of
freedom. Look where they scored the goals from.
"They scored three goals on 15 shots. I'm not blaming the
goaltending specifically; it was just part and parcel with our
entire hockey club. The back-to-back (set of games) is going to be
tough. We didn't get here until 3 in the morning, and we were
playing a good hockey club, but we definitely were short on emotion
and energy. We didn't have much of a defense for them."
The loss extended the Maple Leafs' streak to 12 consecutive games
without a win in regulation.
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"Last night it looked like we had something to build on, and
tonight it was all gone," Toronto defenseman Carl Gunnarsson
said Thursday. "Coming in from the game last night, we know our
legs probably were not going to be there, and we were going to
be tired, but what we did looked like we were more mentally
tired. We can always deal with the body being tired, shorter
shifts or whatever, but it looked like we weren't there
Backes scored two goals for the Blues, including one into an
empty net, to help the Blues improve their record to 47-0-1 in
their past 48 home games when they score three or more goals.
The streak dates back to March 12, 2011.
Left winger Alexander Steen scored his 22nd goal for the Blues,
who also got goals from right wing Chris Stewart and center
Derek Roy. The line of center Vladimir Sobotka, Schwartz and
Stewart totaled seven points in the game.
"That line is able to play one-on-one; all three guys can play
one-on-one hockey," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They
can get away and get open. When you are able to play one-on-one
hockey and get some spacing, it's very hard to defend."
The Blues built a 5-1 lead before Toronto scored two late goals.
Center Nazem Kadri and left wingers Nikolai Kulemin and James
van Riemsdyk were the Maple Leafs' goal-scorers.
St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott made 19 saves for the win. Reimer
stopped 12 of 15 shots before he was replaced by Jonathan
Bernier, who allowed two goals on 20 shots.
NOTES: Blues LW Alexander Steen was a first-round pick of the
Maple Leafs in 2002 and played for Toronto from 2005 to 2008
before he was traded to St. Louis. ... Toronto played its second
consecutive game without its captain, D Dion Phaneuf, who was
completing a two-game suspension for a hit from behind on Boston
D Kevan Miller during Sunday's game. ... Blues G Brian Elliott
started his second consecutive game and played in his third
straight. ... Before Thursday, the Blues were one of four teams
that Toronto G James Reimer never faced in his career. The
remaining three are the Dallas Stars, Anaheim Ducks and Columbus
Blue Jackets. ... Toronto will return home to play the Chicago
Blackhawks on Saturday. The Blues' next game will be Saturday at
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