David Backes celebrated his 32nd birthday Sunday in spectacular fashion: he lifted his St. Louis Blues to victory by scoring the overtime winner. It was his second OT goal in these playoffs, and those are the first two playoff winners of his career.
David Backes isn’t relied upon in St. Louis to score at the same rate as, say, Vladimir Tarasenko, but this post-season the Blues captain has come up with of the biggest goals of the year for his team.
First, it was his Game 1 overtime winner against the Chicago Blackhawks, a goal which deflected in off the skate of defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk and through the legs of netminder Corey Crawford. While it may have been a lucky break and a friendly bounce for the Blues, it was no less important and no less fitting in a series that St. Louis desperately needed after three straight first-round exits.
But the Blues aren’t ready to leave after only one round, and it was Backes again who scored a huge goal that could extend St. Louis’ season. After the Blues blew a 3-1 lead in the third period, St. Louis and Dallas headed to the first overtime of their first-round series. It was in the extra frame that Stars winger Antoine Roussel took an ill-advised interference minor that set the table for Backes to end the game by slipping a power play goal by Antti Niemi:
Making the winner that much better: Sunday was Backes’ birthday, and the now 32-year-old was serenaded with ‘Happy Birthday’ in the dressing room post-game.
It wasn’t the prettiest goal Backes will ever score, but it was indeed a big one. Heading into this post-season, Backes had never scored more than twice in a Blues playoff run and he had five career playoff goals. Through nine games this post-season, though, Backes has three goals — two of which are OT winners — and six points. Coming into these playoffs, Backes had never scored an overtime winner.
Each successive goal by Backes, and each additional win for the Blues, isn’t only big for St. Louis’ Stanley Cup hopes, though. As the Blues get deeper into the post-season, it likely increases the chances Backes will be sticking around this off-season. Backes is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, and an early exit from the playoffs would have no doubt meant he was hitting the open market. However, as the Blues get deeper into the playoffs, Backes might have the feeling the St. Louis can have a lengthy run of success and the Blues’ front office might be more convinced they can win with Backes as their leader.
Backes has worn the ‘C’ for the past five seasons in St. Louis, and over his 10 seasons with the Blues, he has scored 206 goals and 460 points in 727 games.