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GAME NIGHT: Maple Leafs host point-needy St. Louis Blues – Toronto Sun

Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues shoots the puck against the Nashville Predators.
Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues shoots the puck against the Nashville Predators. Getty Images

ST. LOUIS BLUES (28-14-6) at MAPLE LEAFS (32-12-3)

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Saturday, 7 p.m., Scotiabank Arena

TV: HNIC/Sportsnet; Radio: Fan 590

WHY WATCH? Blues seeing red

Far from being safe in the Western Conference race, the Blues aren’t far away from the wild-card slot, while tracking three current non-playoff teams which are within 10 points of them. That’s why they can’t be losing to a couple of last-place clubs, New Jersey and Montreal, as in recent matches, or be two games under .500 on the road. They also gave up two goals in the third at home to Toronto in a 6-5 home loss a month ago. For the Leafs, it’s a second straight home test against a bruising, hard-checking team after defeating Pittsburgh.

POINTS LEADERS

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

GP G A PTS +/-

Auston Matthews 44 33 26 59 +9

John Tavares 46 17 28 45 -1

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Mitch Marner 38 17 28 45 +15

ST. LOUIS BLUES

GP G A PTS +/-

Vladimir Tarasenko 44 18 27  45 -2

Jordan Kyrou 44 18 25 43 +4

Pavel Buchnevich 42 16 27 43 +18

SPECIAL TEAMS

Power play

Toronto: 31.8% (1st)

St. Louis: 27.1% (2nd)

Penalty kill

Toronto: 84.4% (6th)

St. Louis 84.5% (5th)

THREE THINGS ABOUT THE BLUES

1. Pavel Buchnevich has seven points in four games this month and is part of their hottest line with Robert Thomas and Vladimir Tarasenko. Thomas and Jordan Kyrou are among the Blues with strong Toronto-area ties, who all missed the original pre-COVID 19 date of this game just before Christmas.

2. Coach Craig Berube might be in the mood to shake things up after the late-game letdown in Montreal led to an overtime loss, an ideal time to activate ex-LeafS centre Tyler Bozak. He’s approaching his 36th birthday, but despite being a healthy scratch recently, he’ll play whatever role is needed.

3. The Blues have the second-best power play in the league next to the Leafs, much of that based on road success. But the Leafs also have seven shorthanded goals this season and four times Thursday turned Pittsburgh advantages into 2-on-1 rushes the other way.

lhornby@postmedia.com

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