ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 10: Joey Crabb #46 of the Toronto Maple Leafs congratulates teammate Ben Scrivens #30 also of the Toronto Maple Leafs after beating the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center on November 10, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Maple Leafs beat the Blues 3-2 in a shoot out. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
With the Maple Leafs scrambling to find a replacement for the injured James Reimer, Ben Scrivens turned in a great effort Thursday night. He turned aside 38 shots, then stopped all three Blues shootout skaters.
Ben Scrivens turned aside 38 shots -- and stopped all three St. Louis shootout attempts -- and the NHL's leading scorer Phil Kessel scored the lone shootout goal, as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the St. Louis Blues, 3-2.
The win snapped a Maple Leafs two-game losing streak in which they were outscored, 12-1 by the Boston Bruins (7-0) and Carolina Hurricanes (5-1). It also moved Toronto into a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference with the Pittsburgh Penguins with 21 points (10-5-1).
There have been rumors that Toronto has been seeking to acquire a goaltender to take over the No. 1 role in the event that James Reimer's absence from the lineup becomes a long-term issue. Reimer has been out with what was being called a whiplash-type injury, but that was changed to "concussion-like symptoms" since being hit by Brian Gionta of the Montreal Canadiens in a late-October game. He has since been placed on the club's injured reserve list.
With the subsequent disappointing play of Jonas Gustavsson, the performance by Scrivens was very timely.
Scrivens made two spectacular saves in the shootout. He stretched out the right pad to stop Alex Steen, and the left pad to stop T.J. Oshie, with both shots being kicked away just short of reaching the goal line. With Kessel having beaten Jaroslav Halak on Toronto's first attempt, Scrivens then made a blocker save on a wrist shot by Matt D'Agostini to secure the victory.
It appeared as if the stellar play of Scrivens would give the Leafs a win in regulation, but Patrik Berglund scored his fourth of the year on a goalmouth scramble to tie the game at 2-2 with just 1:56 left to send the contest to overtime.
The night started off really well for the visiting Leafs, as they carried play for much of the opening frame. Being outplayed by a wide margin, St. Louis got themselves into penalty trouble.
Just past the midway point of the opening period, Berglund was sent to the penalty box for boarding. Toronto had failed to score with the man advantage in their previous 10 opportunities, but wasted little time in capitalizing on this one.
Dion Phaneuf sent a pass from the left point over to John-Michael Liles at the right circle. Liles controlled the puck from his skate to his stick, then unleashed a wrist shot that beat Halak with pinpoint precision just inside the far post for his second goal of the season for the 1-0 Leafs lead.
With D'Agostini in the box, Kessel was able to backhand the rebound of a Joffrey Lupul shot past Halak for his NHL-leading 12th goal of the year and a 2-0 lead.
But the Blues took control of play after the first period. They outshot the Leafs by a lopsided 32-8 count the rest of the way, but Scrivens was up to the task. Perhaps his best stop was a fantastic sprawling glove save on a Steen shot off of a rebound midway through the third period.
Jason Arnott pulled the Blues to within 2-1 at the 8:01 mark of the second period, sending a quick, power play snap shot from the slot past Scrivens for his fourth of the season.
With the win, Scrivens improved his record to 2-1-0. In each of his wins, the 25-year-old netminder had to make 38 saves.
When asked after the game if he felt he had played himself into the starting role until Reimer returns, Scrivens said he'll defer that issue to coach Ron Wilson. "That's not my decision to make," he said. "I just want to give the team a chance to win whenever I get the call."
He didn't just give the Leafs a chance to win tonight, he was the biggest reason that Toronto was able to pull out the win.