ST. LOUIS -- The first four games of the season could not have gone much better for the St. Louis Blues.
A 5-3 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday night gave the Blues the first 4-0 start in franchise history. St. Louis hasn't even trailed at any point this season.
Led by two goals from David Backes and a goal and three assists by Alexander Steen, the Blues top line of Backes, Steen and T.J. Oshie increased their season total to a combined 18 points in the four games. Steen and Backes have each scored four goals. Saturday's game was Steen's first four-point game since Dec. 21, 2009.
"It's just three guys that are willing to work hard every night," Backes said. "With their skill I just try to get in someone's way. It's clicking right now but it's only four games; four good games, but it's only getting tougher from now.
"Oshie is as healthy as he has been in a long time and Steener's confidence is off the charts right now. He seems to be on fire, and I get lucky every now and then. Between the three of us it's something that we take pride in. We're matched up against the other team's top line typically and playing in their end is the best way to keep them off the score sheet."
Backes and Oshie have been linemates for years, but Steen was added to their line at the start of this season on a regular basis after David Perron was traded to Edmonton.
"I just think the three complement each other well," said coach Ken Hitchcock. "They don't try to do too much with the puck. They don't force offense. They let it come from their checking. They create turnovers like crazy because they are in the right place and they are able to make plays off the rush.
"They've been doing that for four games now. I don't think it's just tonight. It's a little bit of fear too because they play against good players every night."
The Blues came into the game concerned about the Rangers, who allowed 15 goals in their previous two games. With the score tied 1-1 after the first period, New York put heat on the Blues in the second period, outshooting St. Louis 13-5 in the period, but Jaroslav Halak up to the task.
"In my time here we've had some stretches where it has not been pretty like that," Backes said. "They've got a group of guys over there that have had a ton of success and we figured they would be an angry bunch coming out. That second period they had us on our heels. We needed a push back and we had that and Jaro was stellar."
Brad Richards, who had one of the Rangers' goals, could see improvement from the team even if it did not produce a victory.
"We wanted a better result," Richards said. "But it was night and day difference between the last two games. The second period, against a real good team that plays well on home ice, we had the puck a lot and that's more like our team. We felt like even in the third period we were in the game."
Like Richards, New York coach Alain Vigneault was pleased with what he saw from his team -- except for the final result.
"I thought for two periods, we played well," Vigneault said. "We did a lot of things we talked about prior to the game. Our execution was better. We had some good scoring opportunities. I liked a lot of the things we did. We didn't give up much in the second, but they were able to find the back of the net on three occasions there. In the third, we just ran out of gas. Four games in six nights. You could tell the effort was there, the willingness was there, but the legs were having a tough time."
NOTES: The Rangers were playing their fourth game in six nights as they begin the season with a nine-game road trip, necessitated by repairs at Madison Square Garden. They will not play their home opener until Oct. 28. ... The Blues, meanwhile, played their fourth game in a five-game homestand to open the season; that stretch will conclude with a Tuesday night game against San Jose. ... The Rangers were without LW Rick Nash for a second consecutive game. Nash was sent back to New York for further evaluation of concussion-like symptoms resulting from a hit he received from Brad Stuart in Tuesday night's game against San Jose. Stuart was suspended for three games because of the hit.