ST. LOUIS — David Backes wasn’t sure what to expect from the St. Louis Blues’ new-look top line.
It turned out to be a winning combination Monday night.
Backes had two goals and assisted on Vladimir Tarasenko‘s score to lead the Blues to a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets.
“I think Vladi’s been here three years and I don’t know if I’ve started a game with him, played a full game with him,” Backes said. “You don’t know what that’s going to be like and then you’re out there he makes a lot of time and space. (Alexander Steen) was fantastic tonight, creating plays and making plays happen and I was the beneficiary of a few of them.”
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock moved Backes up to the first line with wingers Tarasenko and Steen on Monday and the trio accounted for three goals and three assists.
“I think the big thing is we win the game and that’s really what matters,” Backes said. “The shake-up, being able to score a couple, if feels good, but if we don’t win the game it’s all for naught. Great efforts by a lot of guys tonight allowed us to win this game.”
Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice saw a lot of things he liked Monday.
“We made plays, moved the puck, had some quickness, had some chances and played a darn good road game in here,” Maurice said. “That was a long way to come from that (Nashville) game and it wasn’t easy for them to do, so you got to give those players credit to be able to come out and get moving again and make plays and try and have some confidence in their game and they found it and looked good doing it. So it was absolutely the bounce back we needed, a better result to feel good about it but certainly we know it’s there.”
The Blues scored twice in the first period. Tarasenko got his 11th of the season on a wrister from the slot, assisted by Colton Parayko and Backes, just 5:33 into the game. Backes then scored on a power play, assisted by Shattenkirk and Tarasenko, with 5:47 left in the period.
“It was a good start,” Hitchcock said. “I think we’re still trying to learn how to keep up the level of intensity for 60 minutes. That’s the challenge for us right now, to take a team and bury them. We had it 2-0 in our building, we kind of give it back pretty quickly there. There’s a feeling there’s these emotional swings and they’re very draining, and I think we’re doing that to ourselves.”
The Jets answered with two goals early in the second period.
Byfluglien scored on a long shot that appeared to ricochet off teammate Anthony Peluso and into the net at 2:16. Little then scored from the slot just 36 seconds later, his ninth goal of the season, after a nice pass from Mathieu Perreault.
St. Louis took back the lead late in the period when Backes scored his second of the game on a little backhanded flip after a give-and-go with Steen.
The Jets pulled Hutchinson late in the third period for an extra attacker but weren’t able to tie the game in the final minutes.
NOTES: The Blues recalled F Jeremy Welsh from their AHL affiliate on Sunday. He made his St. Louis debut on Monday, appearing in his 26th career NHL game and first since the 2013-14 season. … Blues F Steve Ott (upper body injury) missed his fifth straight game.