Mike Yeo stands behind the bench in his first game as the head coach of the Blues Thursday night. (Bill Greenblatt/UPI)

By Rob Rains

In all his years in the NHL, Paul Stastny had never experienced a mid-season coaching change until the Blues fired Ken Hitchcock on Wednesday and replaced him with Mike Yeo.

That was one of the reasons Stastny didn’t really know what to expect on Thursday night when the Blues played their first game under Yeo, hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scottrade Center.

The move provided an immediate return, however, as the Blues – led by Stastny’s two goals – defeated the Maple Leafs 5-1 after losing five of their previous six games.

“It’s different,” Stastny said. “He made a good point yesterday. We all felt terrible and took it on ourselves and knew we were partly to blame, everything together. Sometimes someone is the fall guy. But after that we had to focus on what we have to do to get better.

“Sometimes change is good. Sometimes you get too complacent, just the way we prepare to everything it will be a little different. It brings that urgency back.”

Yeo, hired by the Blues over the summer as an associate coach with the expectation that he would become the coach next season when Hitchcock retired, saw the Blues fall behind 1-0 on Mitchell Marner’s first period goal.

The Blues responded with a goal by Alexander Steen to tie the game late in the first period, then scored three times in the second period to take control of the game.

Stastny and Vladimir Tarasenko scored 35 seconds apart before Colton Parayko added a power-play goal to make it a 4-1 game. The three-goal flurry came in a 4:35 span.

On a night when the Blues retired the number 5 jersey of former defenseman Bob Plager in a pre-game ceremony, Stastny – a St. Louis native – scored the fifth goal and his second of the night in the third period.

“Somewhere in the back of your mind you’re always thinking if you get the win it would be cool to try to get five goals, something that the Plager family would always remember,” Stastny said. “We were fortunate to get that fifth one. More importantly we were able to honor him on great night.”

The win was the most important aspect of the night for Yeo.

“There was a lot to like about the game,” Yeo said. “When something like this happens quite often there is a jolt to the team. Obviously it gives everybody a chance to dig in and look at themselves and figure out what they can do better, and we got that tonight.

“Part of the message for us is that we’ve done a lot of good things in the past, we’ve got a lot of good players here, we don’t need any heroes but we need everybody to go out and do a lot of the little things well and we saw that tonight.”

Jake Allen had his best game in a month in goal, stopping 26 of 27 shots as he won for the first time since the Winter Classic on Jan. 2.

The loss was the third in a row for the Maple Leafs and their fifth in the last seven games.

The Maple Leafs’ James Van Riemsdyk was not surprised at the intensity displayed by the Blues because of the coaching change, but he was disappointed his team was not able to match that performance.

“Whenever that kind of event like that happens obviously it's kind of a gut check time for everyone, it’s just one of those things,” Van Riemsdyk said. “Everyone's kind of probably on their toes and it's kind of a fresh start for everyone so I'm for sure that kind of brings out the best of guys.”

Yeo got the puck from the game as a memento of the win – as well as a little friendly criticism.

“The guys criticized my tie,” Yeo said. “I thought it was pretty good, but apparently it’s not.”

. Plager was a member of the first Blues team in 1967 and stayed through 1978 before moving into the front office. It is the seventh jersey number retired by the franchise. ... Yeo kept the same lineup from the Blues' previous game, his first as the team's head coach. Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo and right winger Dmitrij Jaskin were healthy scratches. ... The Blues conclude a three-game homestand with Saturday night's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.