TORONTO (AP) — The St. Louis Blues have picked up right where they left off last season.
Alex Pietrangelo scored the tiebreaking goal in the third period, leading the defending champion Blues to a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night.
Oskar Sundqvist and Brayden Schenn also scored and Jordan Binnington stopped 32 shots to help St. Louis improve to 2-0-1 this season.
On the decisive goal at 7:51 of the third, David Perron found a pinching Pietrangelo, who beat a down-and-out Frederik Andersen from a tight angle at the bottom of the faceoff circle for his second of the season. Pietrangelo also earned his 400th career point and 23rd game-winner to break a tie with Al MacInnis for the most by a defenseman in franchise history.
“We’re playing with a lot more movement,” Pietrangelo said. “We did that in the second half of (last season). We’re moving a lot more on the blue line, we’ve got defensemen that can make plays.
“The more movement we have, the better we are.”
Frederik Gauthier and William Nylander scored for Toronto, which has dropped two straight (2-1-1). Andersen finished with 26 saves.
“We played pretty good,” Andersen said. “Unfortunately it didn’t go our way.”
St. Louis had a chance to add to its lead when Toronto defenseman Jake Muzzin went off for slashing with 4:57 left, but the Maple Leafs had the best chance when Binnington robbed Ilya Mikheyev with his right pad off the rush.
Toronto pressed with Andersen on the bench for the extra skater, but couldn’t find a way past Binnington and the Blues’ stout, battle-tested defense.
“The boys have been battling,” Binnington said. “That was another good comeback victory.”
The Blues opened the scoring at 8:30 of the second when Sundqvist — the Blues’ fourth-line center — moved in on Andersen and fired a slap shot from the top of the faceoff circle that defenseman Tyson Barrie tried to block with his stick.
“I wanted to make that save,” Andersen said. “But if you’ve ever stopped a hockey puck you’d know it’s tough when there’s stuff going on in front of the puck.
“But obviously a save I’ve got to have.”
The Maple Leafs tied it when Jason Spezza batted a puck out of the air to Gauthier, who banged in his second of the season with 8:26 left.
Fans at Scotiabank barely had a chance to sit back down when they were on their feet again 24 seconds later when Nylander finished off a beautiful passing play with Cody Ceci and Andreas Johnsson for his second.
“They just have so much skill,” Binnington said. “They move the puck and they want to go forward. It’s probably fun to play in that system, but we handled it.
“Both teams played well. I’m happy we came out on top.”
St. Louis, which went from last in the overall standings in January to winning the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in June, pushed back late in the period and tied it with 47.3 seconds left on the clock when Schenn beat Andersen between the pads after Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly turned the puck over.
“Good teams find a way to win,” Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said. “They found a way to get one (in the third period) and we didn’t.”
Binnington was helped out by two posts in a busy first period.
Toronto center Alexander Kerfoot hit the post just two minutes in after moving in alone on Binnington. Andersen snapped his glove out at the other end to deny Schenn after the Maple Leafs were caught running around in the defensive zone for an extended period.
Auston Matthews, who had five goals in three games to open the season, then rang another shot off the post behind Binnington on a Toronto power play before Nylander couldn’t quite control a loose puck with the St. Louis goalie down and out.
NOTES: Last season, Nylander didn’t get his second goal until his 24th game following a long contract impasse that dragged into December. … Spezza was a healthy scratch for two of Toronto’s first three games. He suited up at home for the first time and registered his first point with the Maple Leafs after signing for the league minimum in free agency on July 1. .. Binnington, a native of nearby Richmond Hill, Ontario, made his first-ever start at Scotiabank Arena after not grabbing the No. 1 job in St. Louis until early January last season. The 26-year-old did beat Toronto 3-2 in overtime at Enterprise Center on Feb. 19. He had dozens of family and friends in attendance for this game.
Blues: At Ottawa on Thursday night.
Maple Leafs: Host Tampa Bay on Thursday night.