Blues Top Slumping Rangers, 5-3
David Backes appears to have found his long-lost scoring touch.
The St. Louis center netted two goals, and the unbeaten Blues beat the slumping New York Rangers 5-3 on Saturday night.
The Blues, who haven’t trailed at all this season, are 4-0 for the first time in franchise history.
Derek Roy, Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko added goals for St. Louis, which has outscored opponents 19-7. Jaroslav Halak made 26 saves to improve to 4-0.
Backes, who scored just six goals last season in the lockout-shortened campaign, already has four this season. He didn’t notch his fourth last season until the Blues’ 35th game.
“It’s clicking right now, but it’s only four games,” he said. “Four good games, but it’s only getting tougher from here now.”
Backes, with two multipoint games, has helped kick-start an offense that has recorded 34 shots in each of its last three games.
“We’re 4-0 and all that means is we’ve got 78 games to go,” Backes said.
Ryan Callahan scored twice for the Rangers (1-4), and Brad Richards added his team-leading fourth goal. New York, which has four games left on a season-opening, nine-game trip, has lost three in a row by a combined score of 20-5.
St. Louis scored four times on its first 17 shots against backup goalie Martin Biron, who was making his first start of the season. Biron was pulled after the second period in favor of regular netminder Henrik Lundqvist.
Biron stopped 13 of 17 shots. Lundqvist allowed one goal on 17 shots.
The Blues won their first three games in 1969 and 1993, but had never won four in a row to start a season in their 47-year history.
The quick start has impressed St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock, although he wasn’t entirely pleased with his club’s effort on Saturday.
“Being 4-0 is great, but this was not our game,” he said. “I’m not complaining. The way we gathered it in was great. But we need to involve more players.”
Backes put St. Louis ahead 2-1 by beating Biron with a wrist shot at 5:11 of the second period. He pushed the lead to 4-2 later in the frame off a pass from T.J. Oshie.
Steen added three assists, giving him a team-leading eight points — including four goals.
“Right now, we’re working hard and getting some lucky bounces,” Steen said. “We’ve been trying to do the simple things and feed off one another.”
The line of Backes, Steen and Oshie has accounted for 18 points in four games.
“It’s three guys that are willing to do whatever is needed every single night,” Backes said.
New York tied it 1-1 on Callahan’s first of the season, but trailed the rest of the way after Backes scored his first of the night. The Rangers’ goal came during a 5-on-3 power play with 5.8 seconds left in the first period.
Callahan closed the gap to 4-3 with a power-play goal at 2:54 of the third.
The Rangers, who had lost their previous two games by a 15-2 margin, saw some improvement in their latest defeat.
“It was a night-and-day difference from the last two games,” Richards said. “But we wanted a better result. It’s a very simple game. It’s just about getting back to the basics.”
New York coach Alain Vigneault believes his team is heading in the right direction. The Rangers played their fourth game in six nights.
“I thought for two periods we played well,” he said. “Our execution was better. You could tell the effort was there, the willingness was there. But the legs were having a tough time.”