Hitchcock, Blues shift focus to Maple Leafs

The St. Louis Blues will try to go 2-0 with Ken Hitchcock behind the bench, as they host the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at Scottrade Center.

The Blues became the first NHL club to fire its coach this season when they axed Davis Payne after a 6-7-0 start. The players turned in a strong performance for their new boss on Tuesday, as the Blues blanked the visiting Chicago Blackhawks, 3-0.

This is the fourth NHL head coaching job for Hitchcock, who led Dallas to a Stanley Cup title in 1999.

Jaroslav Halak was the star for St. Louis on Tuesday, making 29 saves to earn his first shutout of the season. It was the 17th career shutout for Halak, who is just 2-6-0 with a 2.91 goals-against average on the season.

"When the coaching change happens so fast, you have to look in the mirror and ask yourself if that's the best that you have. Everybody dug in tonight, everybody did their best," Halak said.

Vladimir Sobotka, Chris Stewart and T.J. Oshie lit the lamp for St. Louis, which won for the second time in three games to kick off a five-game homestand.

The Blues, who are 4-1-0 on home ice this season, lost forward Scott Nichol to an upper-body injury on Tuesday, but the veteran could play tonight.

Toronto will try to get back on track tonight after losing its last two games by a combined 12-1 margin.

The Maple Leafs were slammed, 7-0, by visiting Boston on Saturday and were blown out again on home ice on Tuesday, dropping a 5-1 decision to Florida. It was the first time this season that Toronto, which is first in the Northeast Division with 19 points, had lost consecutive games.

Toronto fired 39 shots at the Panthers, but only Phil Kessel scored for the Leafs. Kessel is leading Toronto and the NHL with 11 goal and 22 points.

Jonas Gustavsson stopped 18-of-21 shots before being pulled in the second period. Ben Scrivens served up two goals on seven chances in relief. With No. 1 goaltender James Reimer still out with head and neck issues, it's unclear if Gustavsson or Scrivens will get the start tonight,

The Maple Leafs have won three of their last four on the road and are 4-3-0 as the visiting team this season.

St. Louis has won five of the last seven meetings against the Leafs, but Toronto posted a 6-5 shootout win on home ice in the only matchup between the clubs last season. Toronto has dropped two of its last three in St. Louis.