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Struggling Maple Leafs head to St. Louis to take on Blues

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The Sports Network
12/12/2013 12:17:40 PM
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One day after their 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, and still without top defenceman Dion Phaneuf as he serves the second of his two-game suspension, the Toronto Maple Leafs will head to St. Louis to take on Alexander Steen and the Blues Thursday night.

Cody Franson scored and Jonathan Bernier made 20 stops for the Leafs, but they still stumbled to their seventh loss in nine outings Wednesday against LA.

"That was much closer to what we need," Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle. "Hey, we're third in the Eastern Conference in goals scored. It's on the defensive side where our work ethic and commitment hasn't been there."

Phaneuf was out of the lineup, serving the first game of his two-game suspension however, winger Joffrey Lupul returned after missing seven games in a row due to a groin strain. He has eight goals and 15 points in 22 contests before the injury.

Carlyle could give James Reimer his first career start versus the Blues tonight. Bernier is 2-1-0 with a 2.99 GAA in four starts against them.

The Blues meanwhile, look to secure a second straight victory on Thursday night against the struggling Leafs.

The Blues had lost three of four ahead of Tuesday's 2-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Alexander Steen had a second-period goal and Kevin Shattenkirk put home the deciding goal while on the power play with 3:02 remaining in the game.

Shattenkirk's third goal of the season changed direction on the way to the net after he took a feed from Derek Roy.

"Sometimes you get rewarded with a couple lucky ones and it was a great game by both teams," said Shattenkirk.

Brian Elliott stopped 20 shots for the Blues, who reached the 20-win plateau by claiming their seventh victory in the last 10 outings.

"Our goalie made some great saves and I think we were getting nervous when we didn't score on some opportunities, but I really like the way we fought," said Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock.

Steen, a former first-round pick by Toronto in 2002, scored his first goal in five games and his 21st of the season. That is tied for second most in the NHL and three off his career high of 24 scored with the Blues in 2009-10.

That season was Steen's first full one in St. Louis after getting dealt by Toronto along with defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo for Lee Stempniak on Nov. 24, 2008.

The 29-year-old Steen has two goals in three career games versus Toronto.

Steen will look to give Elliott some more support tonight with the netminder set to get the call again. He is 5-1-1 with a 2.04 goals against average and .919 save percentage in 10 games this season, including seven starts. Elliott has allowed two goals or fewer in five of those starts.

The goaltender is 3-5-1 with a 3.07 GAA in 10 previous meetings with the Leafs, who were in action last night and lost a 3-1 decision to the Los Angeles Kings.

The Maple Leafs have won two straight versus the Blues, both in a shootout, following a three-game series losing streak. They notched a 3-2 win in their last trip to St. Louis on Nov. 10, 2011.

Joffrey Lupul (Photo: Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
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