Brayden Schenn scored on the power play and again in the shootout to lift the St. Louis Blues over Toronto 6-5. The Maple Leafs rallied from a 5-3 deficit to force overtime but couldn't win their first shootout of the season.
"We were a little sloppy in the second period and they got a couple of goals," said Toronto forward William Nylander, who had a goal and an assist. "We were able to score and battle back but kind of a sloppy game from our side."
Bunting scored twice, including a power-play goal that forced overtime, for Toronto (23-8-7). It was his first multi-point performance since Dec. 8, when he had two assists against the Los Angeles Kings.
"I think I've been doing that, getting to the net playing in those hard areas," said Bunting, who also assisted on Nylander's goal. "Bumps and bruises come along the way with that, which is OK. That's my role on this line."
Matthews also assisted on Nylander's goal for the 500th and 501st points of his career. He is the fastest player in Maple Leafs history to reach the 500-point milestone, accomplishing the feat in 445 games to best Mats Sundin and Rick Vaive who both did it in 495.
"I think there's definitely some special meaning behind it, just with the history of this organization, the players that have come and worn this jersey before us," said Matthews.
"I've been fortunate every year to play with some great players, have a great team around us, so it definitely means a lot."
Jordan Binnington made 20 saves, including extra time, for the win in net.
Blues head coach Craig Berube said before the game that players such as Schenn and Saad would have to step up after St. Louis put star forward Vladimir Tarasenko (hand) and captain Ryan O'Reilly (broken foot) on the injured reserve Monday. They joined defenceman Torey Krug as three key St. Louis players who are out for the foreseeable future.
"We did some good things offensively," said Berube. "Couple power-play goals and short-handed, so special teams were a big factor tonight, for sure.
"I thought we played pretty solid for two periods and it still was a tight game."
St. Louis built a 2-1 lead in the first after Saad and Schenn scored early with Engvall adding a goal with 2:52 left in the period.
A wild second period saw the two teams combine for six goals, including three in a 77-second span.
Kyrou made it 3-1 for St. Louis 3:09 into the second after a rebound trickled out to him.
As Kyrou's goal was still being announced over the public-address system Nylander scored for Toronto. Bunting passed from behind the goal line out to the point where Nylander was waiting with his stick up, ready for a slapshot.
That goal brought the 18,553 fans at Scotiabank Arena to life, with chants of "Go Leafs Go!" raining down from the upper bowl.
Leivo picked up his own rebound off of Samsonov's pad at the 9:32 mark of the second to make it 4-2 for the Blues. Bunting replied for Toronto 17 seconds later, putting a rebound past Binnington. A minute later, Saad snapped a shot from the slot to once again give St. Louis a two-goal lead.
Matthews cut into the Blues' lead again shortly after to make it 5-4. Nylander sent a cross-ice pass to Matthews who glided on one skate to receive the puck and snap a wrist shot into the net.
Bunting tied it 5-5 on a power play 7:55 into the third. He converted on a feed from Nylander, sliding a puck past Binnington for his second of the night.
"It was a high-scoring game and you don't want to be in those kind of games," said Bunting. "I thought we battled back and we were able to tie the game, go to a shootout.
"We've just got to move on and look forward to Thursday. We have a lot of games coming up here."
The St. Louis Blues play the Devils in New Jersey on Thursday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 3, 2023.
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press