ST. LOUIS — Frustrated by his low goal output this season, St. Louis Blues captain David Backes found an interesting way to add to his total.
Backes scored an improbable go-ahead goal while lying on his back on the ice just nine seconds after Columbus had tied it late in the second period, helping the Blues nail down a 3-1 victory before a sellout crowd of 19,224 at Scottrade Center.
The goal was his second in two games and only the fifth this season for Backes, who had none in the previous 14 games before scoring Thursday against Chicago.
Backes and Jaden Schwartz were headed to the net when Alex Steen put the puck within Backes' range.
"I go down and I just find the puck there on my back," Backes explained. "I said 'hey, I might as well whack this toward the net somewhere.' I've had enough blind luck where I'm hitting posts or crossbars or missing the net. I'm due for a few that go in that maybe shouldn't."
It wasn't exactly the type of play that Backes is known for, though he deadpanned "Post-practice we do that drill with the assistant coaches all the time."
The Blues' third straight win left them 20-14-2 with 42 points and in eighth place with 12 games remaining. They are one point behind seventh-place Detroit, three ahead of Edmonton and Columbus and two behind San Jose and Minnesota.
A win by Columbus would have allowed the Blue Jackets to pass the Blues in the standings, and the Blues will be in Detroit on Sunday.
"We're in a spot where if we lose that game tonight they leapfrog us and we're on the outside looking in," said Backes, whose team found a way to score three goals on just 19 shots. "To sum it up in one word, it's necessary here or else the darn golf clubs come out again too early. We've had enough of that, so it's time to pour it all in every night, have different contributors all the time.
"We like the group that we have and when we're all on same page, it's a tough team to play against."
Columbus had an apparent goal waved off with 13 minutes, 20 seconds remaining when referee Ghislain Hebert ruled Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert made contact with Blues rookie goaltender Jake Allen.
"His stick got me in the side and sort of knocked me off there," Allen said.
Columbus also got a late power-play chance with 1:20 remaining, then pulled goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky for an extra attacker with about a minute left.
Patrik Berglund added an empty-netter with less than a second remaining as the Blues nailed down two more precious points.
After going 0-for-3 on the power play, the Blues cashed in on their fourth opportunity to grab a 1-0 lead with 4:02 remaining in the second period.
Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo found Chris Stewart open in front and Stewart slid a backhander under Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky for his 16th goal.
"They don't give up much," Stewart said. "This time of the year you're going to have to score those ugly ones and that's what we did tonight. A perfect example is me and Backes going hard to the net and putting them in."
The goal gave Stewart 30 points in 36 games, the same total he scored last season in 79 games. His 16 goals are one more than he scored a year ago.
Stewart's goal also ended a 5-for-59 stretch on the power play by the Blues, who had few high-percentage scoring opportunities before finally breaking through.
Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, playing in his second game with the Blues, picked up two more assists and has three in two games.
The Blues' celebration didn't last long as Columbus forward Artem Ansimov tied it with 1:24 left in the period. Ansimov skated from behind the net to the front without being touched before beating Allen with a quick shot.
Nine seconds later, Backes helped the Blues regain the lead when he scored from his back.
Bobrovsky had stopped 67 of 69 shots in his last two starts and Columbus had lost just twice in regulation over their past 18 games.
Allen came up with several big saves at key moments.
He poked the puck away from new Blue Jackets star Marian Gaborik to thwart a potential breakaway, then robbed Cam Atkinson twice on the initial shot and the rebound.
Allen came up huge early in the second period when he robbed Mark Letestu on a short-handed breakaway.
"I just tried to be as patient as I could; I think he tried to go five-hole on me," said Allen, who hadn't played since allowing three goals on seven shots and being replaced after 25 minutes March 26 against Edmonton. "That's a huge save and that's my job, but it's a big boost for me as well. Whenever I got my next opportunity, I had to make the most of it and I did tonight. Not just for myself, but for this team right now."