ST. LOUIS — With goals in each of his last two games and four in six games this season, Chris Stewart is providing extensive evidence about his desire to once again become one of the NHL's top young power forwards.
Stewart, the Blues' winger who went from back-to-back 28-goal seasons to 15 a year ago, credits an extensive off-season conditioning program and improved diet regimen for the early success.
"He's definitely faster," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Stewart, who played just over 15 1/2 minutes Sunday in a 5-4 overtime victory over Minnesota. "He's way faster, so he's opening up space that he couldn't get to last year. Just from a durability standpoint ... he's lost 20 pounds.
"Try carrying a 20-pound weight around every day, that's a lot, and he hasn't lost strength. He's lost 20 pounds. He's lost 5 or 6 percent on body fat alone which is really significant, so you're going to be leaner and you're going to be quicker."
Stewart got a piece of a shot by Alex Pietrangelo and scored the tying goal Sunday as the Blues improved to 5-1. He also racked up five shots and scored a goal Saturday in the win over Dallas.
Offense from the defense
Puck-moving defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo have had a hand in 15 of the Blues' 24 goals thus far. Shattenkirk is tied for the NHL assist lead with eight, the highest total by any defensemen, while Pietrangelo has a goal and six assists.
Both defensemen had two assists Sunday against Minnesota, as did winger David Perron.
Illustrating value Hitchcock places on hard work and determination, the Blues turned in two gritty performances over the weekend on back-to-back nights.
They battled back from an early 2-1 deficit Saturday to win 4-3 at Dallas, then came back from being down 3-1 Sunday in the 5-4 overtime win against the Minnesota Wild.
The Blues got third-period goals from Stewart and Barret Jackman on Sunday and found a victory on an overtime goal by Vladimir Sobotka.
They did it while playing not only the second of back-to-back games, but their third game in four nights and sixth in nine days since the season began.
"That's a good hockey team over there," Stewart said of the Wild, which provided the tightest defense the Blues have seen this season. "It was a full 60-minute battle and they worked hard, there were some big hits out there."
Sunday was a busy night for Blues captain David Backes, who had an assist, five hits, won 15 of 25 faceoffs and had the second-most ice time of any Blues player (22 minutes, 43 seconds).