The St. Louis Blues came into Washington trying to erase the memory of the shellacking they took against Calgary in their previous game. By the time the game ended the memories were back and fresh as ever.
The Capitals were coming off a come-from-behind overtime victory against the Islanders on Tuesday night. Washington was looking for its first three-game win streak since the end of November.
The first period would have been all about the Caps if were not for Alex Steen. The Capitals out-shot the Blues 10-6 in the period but the Blues got the most important stat, a goal.
Just after the midway point of the period, Barett Jackman started the Blues out of the defensive zone with a crisp, cross-ice pass to Chris Stewart. Stewart entered the zone and bounced a pass to Steen, who roofed the puck for the lead.
The Capitals had a few opportunities to tie the game with a power play late in the first, but Ty Conklin stood tall. Brooks Laich had Washington’s best chance on the power play but missed a wide open net, putting the puck right through the crease.
The second period was more wide open and it was a sign of things to come as well.
Scott Hannan tied the game up at one when he was left wide open and beat Conklin high to the glove side. But the Blues responded just over a minute later to retake the lead.
The Caps won an offensive zone face off, but the pass back to the defensemen was a bit too slow, and BJ Crombeen was able to chip the puck past the d-man and create a two-on-one break. Crombeen looked off Michael Neuvirth and fired a shot low and away to beat the young goaltender.
Unfortunately, the Blues failed to hold the lead again and a minute-and-a-half later, the Capitals were able to tie the game right back up. A clearing pass by John Carlsson was redirected by Alex Ovechkin to Mike Knuble as he entered the offensive zone.
The redirection put Tyson Strachan out of position and allowed Knuble freedom to make a play. Knuble’s pass to Backstrom was tipped into the air by Carlo Colaiacovo’s stick, but that did not deter Backstrom. Like a lacrosse player, Backstrom swung his stick and knocked the puck back to earth and past Conklin for the second Washington goal.
The Blues would have chances late in the second as they earned back-to-back power plays, but were unable to convert. The Blues out shot the Caps 13-6 in the second but were outscored 2-1 in the period.
The third period was wide open and not many whistles went. Both Neuvirth and Conklin made key saves to keep the game tied up. But as in recent games, the Blues choked away another game. An untimely poor pass in the neutral zone was picked off by Laich, who fed the puck to Alexander Semin for a two-on-one.
Laich drew Jackman to him and at the last instant threw a pass to an open Jason Arnott, who buried the puck in the back of the net with 5:15 to go. Over the next two minutes, the Caps kept pouring the pressure on, but Conklin kept it a one-goal game with numerous big stops.
The Blues had chances in the last three minutes to tie the game, but could never get sustained pressure in the zone, even with the goalie pulled.
The loss was the Blues' third in a row. While it didn't officially eliminate them from the playoffs, it basically signaled the end of their attempts to make it.
The Capitals are now on a three-game win-streak and sit just one point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for first in the Southeast Division.
St. Louis travels to Long Island for a matinee against the Islanders on Saturday while the Caps travel to Florida to play the Panthers on Sunday.
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