COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The coach and captain credited Chris Stewart's toughness for turning the tide in the Blues favor.
It culminated with David Backes scoring 22 seconds into overtime on a breakaway that completed St. Louis' rally from a two-goal deficit for a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.
St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said Backes' goal was nice, but they never would have gotten there without Stewart.
"Chris Stewart showed a lot of guts and courage," Hitchcock said. "He got into a hell of a fight. His hand was sore. He ends up scoring the tying goal. He gave us a real inspiration."
Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice, and after a bout with Dalton Prout late in the second period, Stewart tied it with 6:27 remaining for St. Louis. The Blues entered tied for the fewest regulation losses in the league with six, and have now won three straight and four of five. Brenden Morrow added two assists and Jaroslav Halak made 30 saves.
"Stewie coming back after a big fight to score the tying goal, shows a lot of what he's about," said Backes, the captain.
On the winner, Columbus lost the puck at its blue line. Backes took it, fended off Fedor Tyutin on a delayed penalty call then deked Mike McKenna, calmly scoring with a high shot.
"I didn't get a very good read on where his hands were going with the puck," said McKenna, who finished with 27 saves. "It's frustrating. We were right there and played well enough to get a win tonight."
Backes said it served as a little bit of redemption for a team performance that was not very good.
"I just tried to take it to the net and found a little bit of area there and was lucky to get it through," Backes said of his 16th.
Tyutin, Artem Anisimov and Ryan Johansen scored for Columbus, which came out flying to take a 3-1 lead after the first period. It was a tough loss for the Blue Jackets, who had won four of five, jelling around their backup goalies with last season's Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovksy on the shelf.
Third stringer and St. Louis native McKenna was back in net for the second straight game, making his first start since 2010 while playing for New Jersey, which was also against the Blues. On Thursday, in a 4-2 win at the New York Rangers, he stopped 17 of 18 shots in relief of an injured Curtis McElhinney.
But in this one, the Blue Jackets and McKenna couldn't hold down the fort.
"We had opportunities and that might be the most disappointing thing," said Columbus coach Todd Richards, who lost his first game (36-1) when leading after two periods since taking over in 2009. "I think we played hard for 60 plus minutes and it wasn't good enough. We had opportunities to put the game away and we kept them around."
Trailing 3-2 to start the third period, St. Louis pulled even after Nick Foligno and Mark Letestu couldn't convert on breakaway chances. Seconds after Letestu fired high into the glass, a rebound off McKenna into traffic found Stewart down low. He wasted no time converting his seventh at 13:33.