Backes scores four as Blues roll over Coyotes

– Six hat tricks from five different players in 40 games mean the St. Louis Blues are doing something right.

David Backes became the latest player to accomplish the feat, scoring four goals for the second time in his career to lead the Blues to a 6-0 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night.

"We played the best 60 minutes of our season so far," said Backes, former Minnesota State Mankato and Spring Lake Park star.

Backes notched his 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th goals of the season over a 17-minute span between the second and third periods. He became the second Blues player in two nights to score at least three goals, following T.J. Oshie's hat trick in St. Louis' 7-2 win at San Jose on Saturday.

"I don't know how to explain it," Backes said of the team's six hat tricks, "but we're not going to complain when guys are having hot nights like that.''

HIGHLIGHTS

•MAPLE LEAFS FIRE CARLYLE: Randy Carlyle was fired as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday following a road trip in which the team lost five of seven games and showed few signs it would regain the promise from earlier in the season. The dismissal comes after 40 games, with Toronto 21-16-3, fourth in the Atlantic Division and holding one of the two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference. Assistants Steve Spott and Peter Horachek will be behind the bench for Wednesday's game against Washington. General Manager Dave Nonis did not indicate if or when the Leafs might hire a full-time head coach.

•AVS RIDE VARLAMOV: Semyon Varlamov made 54 saves for his third shutout of the season, Nathan MacKinnon scored and set up a goal by Maxime Talbot in the opening 1:17, and the Avalanche beat the Blackhawks 2-0 in Chicago. Colorado was outshot 54-24 but held on for its third win in four games behind Varlamov's 16th career shutout. The Avalanche improved to 7-3-2 in its past 12.

•BLUE JACKETS TOP STARS: Sergei Bobrovsky had 11 of his 24 saves in the third period, and the Blue Jackets beat the Stars 4-2 in Dallas. Columbus scored the first three goals of the game, but the Stars pulled within one before Bobrovsky shut them out in the third.

•LIGHTNING ATOP EAST: Tyler Johnson scored twice in Tampa Bay's four-goal second period, and the Lightning won the matchup for the top spot in Eastern Conference with a 4-2 victory over the Canadiens in Montreal. Brett Connolly and J.T. Brown also scored for Tampa Bay.

NEWS SERVICES