Backes, Blues handle Rangers

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.”

NOTES: St. Louis is 27-6-5 against the Eastern Conference since
the start of the 2010-11 season. … Rangers LW Rick Nash missed
his second consecutive game because of a head injury sustained
Tuesday on a hit by San Jose’s Brad Stuart. Stuart was suspended
three games by the NHL. … Lundqvist has beaten every NHL team
except St. Louis. … The Blues allowed their first third-period
goal of the season. … St. Louis is starting the season with five
straight home games for the second time in team history.