Backes, Schwartz carry Blues to win over Maple Leafs
David Backes is not big on statistics.
The St. Louis center was unaware that his two-goal performance in the Blues’ 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night was noteworthy.
Backes, who has 15 goals and 14 assists, passed last season’s point total of 28. He did so in just 30 games compared to 48 last season.
"You guys figure all that stuff out," Backes said. "I’m more concerned about how our team is playing and whether we are winning games."
Backes scored the first and last goals against Toronto. Jaden Schwartz added a goal and two assists as St. Louis won for the third time in four games. At 13-2-2, the Blues are tied with Boston, Pittsburgh and Minnesota for the most home-ice wins.
Toronto lost its third in a row.
Alexander Steen, Derek Roy and Chris Stewart scored for St. Louis, which has points in its last six games against Toronto. The teams met for the first time since Nov. 10, 2011.
Nazem Kadri, Nikolai Kulemin and James van Riemsdyk scored for the Maple Leafs, who netted two goals in the final 5 minutes.
Brian Elliott, appearing in his third successive game, made 19 saves to improve to 6-1-1.
Backes got his team off to a quick start. He beat James Reimer with a wrist shot from the circle at 4:48 to begin a three-goal blitz in 16:10.
"The first two periods were exactly how we drew it up," Backes said. "We had four lines going, all on the same page."
Backes capped his night by scoring an empty-net goal with 30 seconds remaining. He banked the shot off the boards.
Steen scored his 22nd goal, second in the NHL to Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, who has 26 goals.
Schwartz recorded the second three-point game of his career.
St. Louis chased Reimer, who gave up three goals on 15 shots. It was the seventh time this season the Blues have sent a starting goalie to an early exit.
"We just weren’t our sharpest tonight, including me," Reimer said. "Didn’t have much life, not quite sure about the reason."
Schwartz and Roy scored 3:11 apart to push the lead to 3-0.
Schwartz, who assisted on goals by Roy and Stewart, has 12 points in 11 games. He is plus-10 in his last 10.
"Our whole team did a good job of jumping on them early," Schwartz said. "We put pucks on the net and got a lot of second-chance opportunities."
The Blues have struggled of late in the first period falling behind by at least two goals in the opening frame of losses to San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim.
This time, they appeared to come out with more energy.
"I really like the way we played in the first period," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We created turnovers and got them standing still. We gave them tired legs early."
Toronto hasn’t won in regulation in 12 games. The Maple Leafs were coming off a 3-1 loss at home to Los Angeles on Wednesday.
"Our hockey club looked like we were brain-dead in a lot of areas," Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said. "I don’t know any other way to describe it. Our concern has been high for a while now."
NOTES: St. Louis took 36 shots to Toronto’s 22. The Maple Leafs have outshot opponents only four times this season. … The Blues are 18-1-2 when scoring first. … Toronto D Paul Ranger played in his 300th NHL game. … St. Louis has scored at least two goals in all 17 home games. … Maple Leafs D Dion Phaneuf served the final game of a two-game suspension for a hit on Boston’s Kevan Millar on Sunday. … Steen was chosen by Toronto in the first round of the 2002 draft and came to St. Louis in a trade on Nov. 24, 2008. A fan held up a sign that read, "Thanks for Steen, Toronto."