Saturday, October 31, 2015

Backes' two goals, including game-winner in OT helps Blues down Wild 3-2

Team is 3-0-1 during five-game homestand; captain's goals are first two of season

ST. LOUIS -- Being part of the competition committee that helped implement the 3-on-3 overtime system, St. Louis Blues captain David Backes appreciates the new format even more.

Backes scored his first two goals of the season, including the game-winner in overtime with 33.6 seconds remaining to give the Blues a 3-2 victory against the Minnesota Wild at Scottrade Center on Saturday.

Backes took a pass from Ty Rattie as he was entering the Minnesota zone, cut to the high slot and beat goalie Devan Dubnyk with a high wrist shot.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
David Backes (left) is all smiles after scoring the game-winning goal in
overtime to defeat the Minnesota Wild 3-2 Saturday night.

"Yeah, it's not so bad now," Backes said laughing, referring to the 3-on-3. "Its one of those things where you're gutting it out after 60 minutes and it's a good hockey game and you're trying to find a way. They had a chance, Jake (Allen) makes a save and then it's 2-on-2 and I'm late joining the rush. (Jay Bouwmeester) drives the middle, takes everyone back; 'Rats' finds me late and close your eyes and shoot it hard and find the back of the net. 

"Gotta give a little credit to (assistant equipment manager) Joel Farnsworth. Got me some new gloves before overtime. A little tighter, a little harder shot, I think with them. We'll credit that."

Minnesota had a chance at the other end before the Blues scored, and Rattie actually knocked the Wild's Zach Parise down at the side of the Blues' goal that created the odd-man rush for the Blues. Rattie patiently waited for Backes to get into the zone before flipping him the puck.

"I could tell Backes was on his way," Rattie said. "I knew Parise fell down. The whole bench was yelling at me, so I kind of just laid it in there. Heck of a shot by 'DB' there and kind of fitting that he finished it off for us.

"The whole bench was yelling. Revo was right in my ear there. I just had one thing on my mind: give it to 'DB' and he did the rest."

Backes credited Rattie for patiently waiting.

"If you try to force it to the net or (Dubnyk) control the rebound, it's a 2-on-1 back the other way," Backes said. "He does a great job of controlling it, finding me. I think the bench is yelling at him there's a guy coming late and we had an odd-man rush. I think the key is 'Bouw' is driving the net to keep them honest and drive them back and I can wind up and let it rip."

Alexander Steen scored for the Blues (8-2-1), who are 3-0-1 on a five-game homestand. Allen made 29 saves.

"Good jump in the first; I thought we came out with a real strong start," Steen said. "A few little mishaps, puck bounces and that happens and they're right back in the game. After that, I think both teams had good opportunities to score, but couldn't put it in. 'Backs' got a big one in OT there."

Jason Zucker and Erik Haula scored for the Wild (7-2-2). Dubnyk made 23 saves.

Minnesota took three of four points in back-to-back games against the Chicago Blackhawks and Blues, even after falling behind 2-0.

"We've done a pretty good job of that this year coming back when we've been down early," Parise said. "Starts have kind of hurt us a little bit this year, but we've been able to climb back into games and we did that again tonight. I thought we had a really good chance to win it too." 

The Blues grabbed a 2-0 lead before the Wild scored two late first-period goals to tie it up. 

Backes' first goal in 11 games, his longest stretch to start a season without a goal, put the Blues ahead 1-0 on a 52-foot shot Dubnyk couldn't handle 2:47 into the first. The shot deflected off defenseman Marco Scandella's stick.

"Off a D's stick and it finds a way," Backes said. "I felt I had a lot more jump and confidence after that making plays through the game."

Steen put the Blues ahead 2-0 after he picked off Mikko Koivu's outlet pass inside the Wild zone, skated to his left and beat Dubnyk top shelf at 8:40 to make it 2-0.

"Jori (Lehtera) and (Scottie Upshall) put a lot of great pressure on Minny," Steen said. "For me, it was just a read and I kind of backed out, took a couple steps to the left and (Koivu) hit me. After that, as soon as they turned it over, I was looking at Uppy for a long, long time and I thought I had taken the angle away from myself almost looking for him. Found a little spot. That was nice."

But Minnesota, which was coming off a 5-4 home victory against the Blackhawks on Friday, stormed back to tie on goals by Zucker and Haula. 

Zucker, who made it 2-1 a point in his seventh straight game, took Ryan Suter's outlet pass, beat rookie defenseman Colton Parayko up the left side and beat Allen glove side, top shelf with a wrist shot at 15:14. 

Haula's first of the season came off a Blues defensive zone turnover. Haula took a pass from Thomas Vanek, who extended his point streak to seven games, and beat Allen from the slot with 42.3 seconds left in the period. 

"It was great," Zucker said. "We had a  lot of guys step up and started playing well. That fourth line really played great. They kind of changed the tempo card, stepped in there and obviously they scored after the fight." 

The Wild thought they had a goal with 2:27 remaining in the first period from Zach Parise, but after a review, the goal was waved off because of a distinct kicking motion. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Blues' Ty Rattie (18) battles for the puck with Minnesota
defenseman Marco Scandella Saturday night.

The Blues' penalty killing unit was solid in the second period. The Wild had a two-man advantage for 1:02 but could only manage one shot on goal. 

The Blues got their first power play of the game with 3:01 left in the second but they couldn't score and extended their power play drought to 17 straight. They are 1-for-29.

The teams traded scoring chances in the final two periods after a four-goal first before Allen made a crucial save on Mikael Granlund in overtime before the Blue won it.

"It's absolute chaos," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said, describing the 3-on-3. "You don't know what's going to go on. I think it's something if we talk it over and we have a good strategy ... I think we can control it and we'd be a lot more effective because right now it's just chaos. Fun for the fans. 

"We might as well just leave the bench as coaches because we don't know what the hell is going on."

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