The Daily Puppy

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Varlamov, Capitals beat Blues 4-1

ST. LOUIS -Semyon Varlamov made 37 saves for his fourth straight win since recovering from a groin injury and the Washington Capitals got back at the goalie who knocked them out of the playoffs last spring with a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night.

Nicklas Backstrom had two goals and an assist to help NHL-leading Washington push its points total to 38. Brooks Laich and Boyd Gordon also scored for the Capitals, who won in St. Louis for the first time in nine games since Oct. 26, 1996.

The Capitals got a goal in each period against Jaroslav Halak, who bedeviled them during heavy underdog Montreal's first-round upset of the overall No. 1 seed last spring. Halak allowed one goal in each of the final three games of the series, facing a total of 131 shots.

Halak, who got a four-year contract with St. Louis after a summer trade, is 2-6-1 in his last nine starts. His misplay gave the Capitals a two-goal lead.

The Blues were the last NHL team to lose in regulation at home, but have lost consecutive games in a four-day span to fall to 8-2-1. Their perfect 7-0 start against Eastern Conference opponents also ended, and they've dropped four in a row overall.

The Capitals won their fourth straight overall without much from big guns Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, with each player getting an assist. Backstrom's 10th goal on a rebound shot early in the third period put Washington up 3-1 and he added an empty-net goal in the final minute.

Laich had an easy tap-in from the side of the net after Backstrom's wrist shot deflected off two Blues' sticks on a power play midway through the first period.

The Capitals went ahead 2-0 midway through the second on Halak's mistake. Gordon flipped the puck from the side of the net and Halak took a swipe at it with his glove but only got a piece of the puck, deflecting it off defenseman Eric Brewer, and it rebounded into the net.

Alex Steen's fifth goal of the season and only second point in eight games cut the deficit to one with 31.4 seconds to go in the second. Steen floated a wrist shot from the side board and it sailed through traffic.

NOTES: The Blues had won 12 in a row against the Eastern Conference dating to last January. ... The Caps scratched D Scott Hannan, acquired Wednesday from the Avalanche. ... Laich has two goals and an assist in the last four games. ... The Caps are among three teams that have never shut out the Blues, over 85 games. The others are Tampa Bay (28 games) and Ottawa (24). ... The Blues outscored the Capitals 29-13 during the elongated eight-game winning streak.

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