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.