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Backes, Tarasenko lift Blues to win against Jets

by Louie Korac / NHL.com

ST. LOUIS -- David Backes had two goals and an assist to help the St. Louis Blues to a 3-2 victory against the struggling Winnipeg Jets at Scottrade Center on Monday.

Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and an assist, Kevin Shattenkirk had two assists, and Jake Allen made 16 saves for the Blues (12-5-1), who play at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

The Blues, who were outscored 18-10 in the first period in their first 17 games, were focused on getting off to a good start, and they did, taking a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

"It wasn't perfect, by any means," Backes said. "I think they were in our face and playing physical, and we had to find a way to respond. We found our game as it went on, scored a big power-play goal, and those things become perpetual.

"We had a lot of great efforts, I think, by guys that maybe don't show up on the score sheet in [Kyle] Brodziak's line and [Jori] Lehtera tonight winning big draws in our zone, playing those hard minutes to allow us to have a little bit more time in the offensive zone. [Allen] was stellar as he has been for the last while for us."

Winnipeg (8-9-2) tied the game on goals 36 seconds apart early in the second period.

Dustin Byfuglien's slap shot from the right point at 2:16 made it 2-1, and Bryan Little's wrist shot from the slot after taking a pass from Mathieu Perreault at 2:42 tied it.

The Jets were frustrated they couldn't sustain the momentum and take the lead, especially after a 7-0 loss at the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

"It was a better effort," Little said. "Does it make it easier to swallow that we lost again? We skated much harder tonight. We were competitive in the game. We were down. We stuck together as a team throughout the whole game, and like I said, it doesn't feel better and make this trip better that we put in an effort. Sometimes it's not enough."

Winnipeg goalie Michael Hutchinson made 25 saves.

Backes' second goal of the game 4:24 into the second period proved to be the game-winner. The Blues captain scored his fifth goal, all in the past eight games, after a give-and-go with Alexander Steen and a backhand shot past a screened Hutchinson.

"When it's 2-0, you want to discourage them more and take the energy out of them," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of the Jets. "When they got that first goal, they really got energized, and it was a dogfight.

"I think the third goal by [Backes] right back at them, that was really good for us, because I thought it settled us down."

Winnipeg was winless on its four-game road trip and was outscored 21-8. It has lost six straight (0-5-1)

Coach Paul Maurice was pleased by the Jets' effort Monday.

"Based on the beating we took in Nashville, a lot of really good things," he said. "We made plays, we moved the puck, had some quickness, had some chances and played a damn good road game in here. That was a long way to come from that [Nashville] game, and it wasn't easy for them to do so. You've 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 the game, and they found it and looked good doing it. It was absolutely a bounce-back. We needed a better result to feel good about it, but certainly we know it's there."

Tarasenko's 11th goal gave the Blues a 1-0 lead. After defenseman Colton Parayko pinched along the right wall, he fed Tarasenko in the slot and paved a way for the Blues' leading scorer to take a wrist shot that beat Hutchinson 5:33 into the first period.

Backes' power-play goal put the Blues up 2-0 with 5:47 remaining in the first. Tarasenko raced and beat Jets defenseman Mark Stuart to the puck and poked it to Shattenkirk. From the corner, Shattenkirk whipped the puck to the slot, where Backes pulled it to his forehand and beat Hutchinson before crashing into the crossbar.

"[Steen] gets a good puck there and kind of tries to make a play coming in the zone, puts the puck in the right spot," Shattenkirk said. "[Tarasenko] recognizes it and skates hard to just get any sort of 50-50 puck. Fortunately, it comes right to me, and I heard Dave screaming, 'Net, net, net!' I knew he was there. Fortunately, it was right on his tape.

"... We really felt like we needed to get off to a good start. This is a team that I think feeds off that when you let them get into their game, let them check, let them kind of hit you around and play that transition game that they have. They have such a good transition game when they can get their speed going in the neutral zone. We did a good job of taking care of pucks and getting on their defensemen early."

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