ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Blues got off to a strong start on Friday night against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs and held an early one-goal lead but weren’t able to sustain it.
The Maple Leafs scored four unanswered goals to beat the scuffling Blues, 4-1, at Scottrade Center for their second loss in as many nights.
“It might have been the best first 10 minutes of a game we’ve played, shooting pucks, line after line, wave after wave, and for some reason we got off that game and looked for something that was a little easier,” Blues captain David Backes said. “They made us pay in transition and we deserved to lose 4-1.”
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock inserted three new players in the lineup on Saturday after a physically-taxing 2-1 shootout loss on the road to the New York Islanders on Friday night.
The result, however, didn’t change as the Blues (15-8-4, 34 points) fell to 4-5-3 over their past 12 games after starting 11-3-1.
“We played 15 minutes the right way and had all kinds of success and then refused to stay with it,” Hitchcock said. “We’re scoring one goal a game and we had a great start and that wasn’t good enough. We decided we wanted to play a different way and by the time we decided to catch it back up it was way too late.”
“Its not the right way to play, the players know it, especially the veteran players,” Hitchcock added. “I’m not sure what it’s going to take for us to get back to what we are capable of. That’s why we’re a .500 hockey club the last little while.”
St. Louis has scored just three goals over its last three games.
Toronto (9-13-15, 23 points) scored plenty on Saturday.
Nazem Kadri scored twice and Brad Boyes and P.A. Parenteau also added goals. Former Blues defenseman Roman Polak had two assists. Garret Sparks stopped 27 shots for his second victory in his first three NHL starts.
“I think we didn’t have a good start but we battled back,” Polak said. “That’s what I like on our team right now, that we battle no matter what. We didn’t have a good start, but other than 10 minutes in the first period we played pretty good hockey.”
Tarasenko gave St. Louis a 1-0 lead just 1:51 into the first after converting on a 2-on-1 breakaway with Paul Stastny.
Kadri tied the score late in the first period, knocking home a rebound of a shot from Leo Komarov that was also assisted by Polak.
The next goal, 6:11 into the second period, was first credited to Polak but later changed to Boyes. Polak took a drop pass from Shawn Matthias, ripped a high slap that was tipped in by Boyes.
The sequence gave Polak his eighth career two-point game and gave Boyes, another former Blues player, a goal against every NHL team.
Parenteau made it 3-1 at the 8:57 mark of the second period and then Kadri scored again at 6:47 of the third.
The Blues fell to 1-2-2 over their last five games.
“I don’t know why we want to get cute,” Backes said. “We’ve built this thing on playing the right way, hard-nosed, blue collar hockey, wearing teams down.”