David Backes gave the St. Louis Blues a big gift on his 32nd birthday, with another overtime goal to go home even.
What a serenade of “Happy Birthday” for the Blues captain from his teammates after Backes scored off a rebound during a power play 10:58 into overtime of Game 2 on Sunday for a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars.
“I want to know what they did with the money their parents gave them for voice lessons,” Backes said with a smile.
After blowing a two-goal lead while getting outshot 13-2 in the third period, the Blues took advantage of their second power-play chance in overtime. Backes followed up Alexander Steen’s shot 17 seconds after Antoine Roussel was called for interference.
“The thing that impressed me more than anything was the way we played in the overtime Outstanding,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We went into attack mode and stayed on it the whole time. I was really impressed with the way we did OT.”
Instead of a 0-2 hole, the Blues go home 1-1 in the best-of-seven series matching the Western Conference’s top two teams. Game 3 is Tuesday night, with Game 4 also in St. Louis on Thursday before the series returns to Dallas for Game 5 on Saturday.
When Roussel was asked if the penalty was the right call, he responded, “I don’t know. They have a tough job. It’s not easy to be a ref out there.”
Roussel slammed his stick when exiting the penalty box after Backes scored to end the game.
“That second (penalty) was tough. He was trying to stay onside,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “It doesn’t matter whether I like the call or don’t like the call. … We looked like we were going to get an odd-numbered rush and they got a couple hooks on (Stars rookie Radek Faksa) him just before going through the middle of the ice, which I was frustrated with.”
Antti Niemi had stopped 19 consecutive shots since relieving Kari Lehtonen after the first period until Backes scored.
Blues goalie Brian Elliott had 31 saves, including big shots by Jason Spezza and Stars captain Jamie Benn about a minute apart in overtime.
St. Louis had a quick extra-man chance in overtime when John Klingberg was whistled for holding as Vladimir Tarasenko, who scored 40 goals in the regular season and four in the first-round series, was charging toward the net. But Niemi, who took over as the Stars’ goalie in the second period, stopped three shots in that 2-minute span.
Spezza and Benn, who scored the OT-forcing goal with 2:36 left in regulation, then had their shots before the game-deciding penalty.
Tarasenko took a slap shot that was blocked by Alex Goligoski. With the defender still stunned from the puck hitting his knee, the Blues kept charging and Backes scored on the rebound of Alexander Steen’s shot.
“The win was huge but just to play the way we can. The first two periods were night and day from the other night,” said Troy Brouwer, who had a power-play goal and an assist in the first period. “Obviously anytime you win in overtime, that’s good, and to bring the series back even, that’s good.”
Backes is only the second player in Blues history with two overtime goals in the same postseason, having scored the OT winner in the opener of the Blues’ first-round series against Chicago.
Benn knocked a loose puck past Elliott to tie the game at 3-all late in the third period, when Cody Eakin got his third assist of the game.
Stars rookie center Mattias Janmark had a breakaway goal 4 1/2 minutes into the third period, and Dallas was almost immediately on the power play after the ensuing faceoff. But the Stars were 0 for 4 with the extra man, and are now 1 for 20 on power plays at home this postseason.
“Take the officials out of the equation,” Ruff said. “We had our power plays and didn’t do a good enough job.”
NOTES: Lehtonen allowed three goals on five shots. The Stars have used both of their goalies all season, including the first round against Minnesota, but this was the first time they made an in-game switch during the playoffs. … The other Blues player with two OT goals in a postseason was Pierre Turgeon in 1999, the year the Stars won their only Stanley Cup. … Benn passed from behind the net to Goligoski for a one-timer 3 1/2 minutes into the game. That lead lasted only 35 seconds before Patrik Berglund’s slap shot from the left circle. … Brouwer made a cross-ice pass to defenseman Joe Edmundson for his first career playoff goal, and added a power-play tally with 1:20 left in the first for a 3-1 lead. … Robby Fabbri and Kevin Shattenkirk each had two assists for St. Louis. … Elliott needed a moment to gather himself in the third period, and get a new facemask, after Spezza’s point blank shot went into his grill.