NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, February 13th
(All times eastern)
Washington Capitals (41-13-7) at St. Louis Blues (27-25-9), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Offense hasn't been a problem for the Capitals this season,
but defense has become an issue as of late. Washington hopes to avoid losing
three straight for the first time in six weeks this evening versus the hosting
Blues at Scottrade Center as the Caps try for their first win at St. Louis in
over 13 years.
The Capitals have dropped two in a row for the first time since a three-game
skid from December 28-January 2. Though Washington has netted 15 goals over
its last three games, it has allowed 16 in that span.
The Caps got away with it last Sunday, as Alex Ovechkin had a hat trick in a
5-4 overtime win over Pittsburgh that extended the club's franchise-record win
streak to 14 games. However, Washington lost a 6-5 game in overtime on
Wednesday to Montreal despite a hat trick by Brooks Laich, and followed that
up with a 6-5 setback in Ottawa the following night.
Alexander Semin had three goals, marking the first time in club history that
Washington has posted a hat trick in three straight games. Tomas Fleischmann
and Jeff Schultz also scored but Semyon Varlamov gave up six goals on 28 shots
in his first start since December 7 and Washington's first loss in regulation
since January 12.
"The [Olympic] break can't come soon enough for me," said Capitals head coach
Bruce Boudreau. "We need to get five or six days of good practice to get back
into shape here."
Washington, which is averaging 4.95 goals per game over its last 20 contests,
has fallen into a tie with San Jose for the most points in the NHL with 89
thanks to its two-game slide.
The Caps hope their high-powered offense can earn them their first victory in
St. Louis since a 6-4 triumph on October 26, 1996. They have since lost seven
straight on the road to St. Louis, which has nine wins and a tie in its last
12 versus the Capitals overall.
However, Washington did notch a 4-2 home win over the Blues on December 18 of
The Blue are looking to carry some home momentum into the Olympic break, as
they were an NHL-worst 9-16-5 as the host before beginning a three-game
homestand on Tuesday versus Detroit. St. Louis won that contest in a shootout
and then knocked off Toronto, 4-0, last night to win consecutive games for the
first time since a four-game winning streak from January 9-16.
Chris Mason made 30 saves for his second shutout of the season and 20th of his
career, while T.J. Oshie and Alexander Steen both scored short-handed goals.
Andy McDonald and B.J. Crombeen also tallied in the victory.
"Our penalty killers outworked them. Your penalty killers are usually your
hardest working guys and they showed that tonight," said Mason.
The Blues played without Keith Tkachuk due to an upper-body injury and are
four points back of a playoff spot in the West.
02/13 10:38:25 ET