Hannu Toivonen has been a solid backup goaltender in his first season with the St. Louis Blues, but he might need to be more than that if starter Manny Legace’s recent injury keeps him out for an extended period of time.
Toivonen will likely make his third straight start Friday night when the Blues visit the Edmonton Oilers in the second stop on their three-game, western road trip.
Toivonen, whom the Blues acquired in a July trade with Boston, made an emergency start in St. Louis’ 3-1 loss at Calgary on Tuesday night after Legace injured his right knee during pregame warmups.
The veteran Legace is 11-6-1 with a 2.22 goals-against average and a big reason the Blues (15-9-1) are one of the Western Conference’s top teams through the first two months of the season. However, Legace’s status for Friday and Sunday’s game at Colorado remains uncertain after he re-injured the same knee her underwent surgery on last spring.
Toivonen, who started 33 games in his first two NHL seasons with the Bruins, is 4-3-0 with a 1.99 GAA and a .927 save percentage for St. Louis.
He was in net for St. Louis’ 3-1 home win over Chicago on Saturday, as Legace was given the night off in the second of back-to-back contests. Pressed into action Tuesday, Toivonen made 34 saves, but allowed two goals in a second period when Calgary outshot the Blues 20-2.
“It sucks, it really does, but it’s gone now, there’s nothing you can about it, you have to learn from it and see what I can do better next time,” said Toivonen, who made 36 saves to win his only previous start versus Edmonton, 5-4 on Dec. 3, 2005.
Tuesday’s defeat was St. Louis’ first regulation loss in six games.
“We got off to a good start then rested on our laurels after the first 12 minutes,” said St. Louis coach Andy Murray, whose team is 8-2-1 since losing a season-high three straight contests Nov. 3-9.
Right wing Lee Stempniak scored a goal in his third straight game. He has fared well in eight career games versus Edmonton, with five goals and two assists.
The Blues went 3-1-0 versus the Oilers last season and have won three of their last four trips to Edmonton.
The Oilers (13-15-1) had their three-game winning streak snapped Wednesday with a 4-2 home loss to Pittsburgh. Edmonton was unable to hold a 2-0 lead, as it got outshot 31-19.
“I thought we sat back and tried to hold the lead too much,” Oilers rookie forward Sam Gagner said. “It’s something we have to improve upon.”
Shawn Horcoff scored his team-leading 12th goal, giving him three goals and five assists during a five-game point streak. The center had a goal and five assists in four contests versus St. Louis in 2006-07.
Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson made 27 saves Wednesday, but lost for the second time in three starts. He’s also lost two of three starts against St. Louis since coming to Edmonton from Minnesota in 2005-06.