McMann gets first NHL hat trick, Leafs beat Blues 4-1

Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov looks on as defenseman Simon Benoit battles with Blues forward Brayden Schenn during the third period of Tuesday night's game in Toronto. (Canadian Press via the Associated Press)
Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov looks on as defenseman Simon Benoit battles with Blues forward Brayden Schenn during the third period of Tuesday night's game in Toronto. (Canadian Press via the Associated Press)

TORONTO -- Bobby McMann registered the first hat trick of his NHL career as the short-handed Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-1 on Tuesday night.

William Nylander had the other goal for Toronto. Ilya Samsonov made 14 saves.

The NHL’s department of player safety announced shortly before the opening faceoff it had suspended Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly five games for his cross-check to the head of Ridly Greig following the Ottawa center’s slapshot empty-net goal in the final seconds of the Senators’ 5-3 victory Saturday.

“We needed guys to step up in different ways,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “We had a lot of great efforts.”

The Leafs were also missing star forwards Mitch Marner and John Tavares, who were ruled out just before warm-ups due to illness.

“Anticipated that I was going to be out tonight based on the lineup at (Monday’s) practice,” McMann said. “You never know when you’re gonna be called upon.”

The undrafted 27-year-old winger has shown offensive flair at lower levels, but it had been a challenge in the NHL through his first 36 games, especially on a team where he’s battling for time further down the lineup.

“You gotta enjoy the moments as they come, whether it’s your first goal or your first game,” McMann, who had scored twice in the NHL before Tuesday, said of his journey. “As you get more comfortable, you can try more things. You get a little bit more ice time, a little bit more trust with the coach.

“And then you just keep working.”

Alexey Toropchenko scored for St. Louis, which entered 7-1-0 over its last eight games. Jordan Binnington stopped 28 shots in defeat.

“Just weren’t skating enough and supporting each other enough,” Blues captain Brayden Schenn said. “We know we have to be a whole lot better.”

Toronto opened the scoring at 5:33 of the first period when McMann fought off Schenn along the boards before stuffing home his third goal of the season.

Down about $30 million in salary cap space with Rielly, Marner and Tavares sidelined, the Leafs doubled their lead at 16:25 when Nylander’s pass hit the stick of St. Louis rookie defenseman Matthew Kessel and fluttered past a helpless Binnington for the winger’s 26th.

The visitors cut the deficit to 2-1 at 5:36 when Toropchenko tipped in his ninth. Kessel picked up the secondary assist for the blueliner’s first NHL point in his 19th game.

McMann scored his second of the evening -- and fourth overall to double his career total -- at 8:02 of the third when he collected a loose puck and roofed a shot upstairs on a night where the Leafs needed their depth players to step up.

McMann then completed the hat trick with 1:39 left in regulation when his clearing attempt off the boards in the defensive zone found the Blues’ empty net at the other end with a weight that would make any curler smile.

“Two huge goals for us and a cool empty netter to finish it off,” Keefe said. “Terrific end to a strange day for us.”

On Thursday, the Blues host the Oilers and the Maple Leafs host the Flyers.