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Blues' Backes comes up big in Game 2 win vs. Stars

St. Louis forward scores second overtime goal of this year's playoffs

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

DALLAS -- Since 1995, St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has coached players of all shapes, sizes and forms.

Blues captain David Backes is one that Hitchcock considers among the rarest to play for him..

Backes, playing on his 32nd birthday, scored his second overtime goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs in a 4-3 win against the Dallas Stars in Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round at American Airlines Center on Sunday. He did it from the area where he's made a living: the slot.

The veteran forward, standing in front of Stars goalie Antti Niemi, jumped to avoid Alexander Steen's slap shot from the top of the right circle before depositing the rebound at 10:58.

Video: STL@DAL, Gm2: Backes buries OT PPG to even series

"I could see the one-timer coming over, I figured if I could get [Niemi's] eyes and [Steen] got it up that it's got a good chance to get in and if he didn't get it up, I could turn around and find a rebound," Backes said. "One of those fortuitous bounces right on my tape and slammed it home before anyone could realize where it is."

Backes' third goal of the postseason tied the best-of-7 series 1-1. Game 3 is Tuesday at Scottrade Center (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).

"Jaromir Jagr in all his wisdom at 44 said, 'Who cares who scores,' and that's the way we feel in this room," Backes said. "Who cares who scores, this series is tied back up. We're still getting better and need to play better. We did our job, got one in their building, and now need to go home and play solid hockey for 60 minutes and start to establish our game."

Hitchcock acknowledged that Backes is more used to blocking shots than avoiding them.

"I've been in the league since '95 and I've only coached two players who are willing to absorb the shot," Hitchcock said. "Lots of guys go into traffic. There's lots of guys that will go into traffic, but as the puck's coming, they'll jump out of the way or try to tip it. He's one of two players that's been able to hang in there with the shot, so he's willing to absorb the puck and then make a play after that, which is very unique because there's not many players that will do that. 

"He even practices it on a daily basis. I find it amazing that you get an athlete, especially in this day and age that's still willing to absorb all those pucks."

And who is the other?

"He got hurt doing it. Torres ... Raffi [Torres] was the other guy," Hitchcock said. "Only guys for me that I've ever coached that are willing to absorb the shot."

Video: STL@DAL, Gm2: Backes drops Janmark with big check

In nine playoff games, the Blues have dealt accordingly when faced with adverse situations.

The Blues got back to their game plan and grabbed home-ice advantage. They responded to a 2-1 loss in Game 1 by taking a 3-1 lead after one period on Sunday before Dallas rallied with two goals in the third period.

"It kind of reminded me a little bit of Game 6 in Chicago where we get a lead early and then rather than turning the knife and twisting it and really opening up that wound, we start playing back into their hands," Backes said. "I think it's the combination of them making a push and us taking our foot off the gas a little bit."

Backes considers it a valuable lesson for the Blues.

"When you can learn lessons and win, hopefully that sinks in so we can even be better on Tuesday when we play again," he said. "We'll take those a lot more than the losses in having to learn a hard lesson. So yeah, I think a lesson learned. But we've got to have 20 guys on the page investing everything, doing our detailed game in order to have success against this team. You need it for a full 60 minutes. 

"We didn't have it quite in the third. Found it back again in overtime and were able to capitalize on our power play."

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