Blues-Capitals Preview

The Associated Press

With red-hot Alexander Steen leading the way, the St. Louis Blues are riding one of the league's most prolific offenses through another outstanding stretch.

They'll likely have to continue that surge against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, who are scoring at a high rate during their home winning streak.

The surging Blues will try for their ninth win in 11 games Sunday night when they visit a Washington team seeking its sixth straight home win.

Steen continued his remarkable run with his league-leading 17th goal to give the Blues (13-2-3) the lead for good in the third period of a 4-2 win over visiting Carolina on Saturday.

''Big-time player, big goal,'' said coach Ken Hitchcock, whose team is 8-1-1 in its last 10.

Steen also had an assist to extend his point streak to 13 games, the longest for a St. Louis player since Pierre Turgeon's 15-game run in 1999-2000. Steen has 13 goals and five assists during this stretch.

The center also has four goals and seven points in his last eight games against the Capitals (11-8-1), including a four-game point streak in Washington.

Teammate David Backes, second on the team with eight goals and 20 points, has gotten back on track with goals in back-to-back games after going scoreless in his previous nine.

St. Louis has totaled 11 goals in its last two games and ranks near the top of the league with 3.5 per game. While the Blues have scored first in their last 10 games, Washington hasn't held the lead after one period in its past six.

The Capitals, however, have been playing well offensively, particularly on their own ice. They've scored 3.6 per game during their five-game home winning streak.

Washington, 6-1-1 in November, rallied for a 4-3 shootout win at Detroit on Friday. Ovechkin and Brooks Laich each had goals, while Michael Latta scored his first in the NHL as the Capitals erased a 3-1 deficit in the third period.

''It's a huge win. That's a good team,'' Ovechkin said. ''Everyone knows what they have out there and how good they are.''

Ovechkin has scored nine of his Eastern Conference-leading 15 goals at home, where he's totaled five over a four-game point streak. The superstar winger hasn't scored in his last four games against the Blues, but he has four assists in the last three meetings.

While Braden Holtby will likely face a tough test against St. Louis, he's posted a 1.95 goals-against average in winning his last four home starts.

After Brian Elliott stopped 18 of 20 shots to beat the Hurricanes, Jaroslav Halak is expected to be back between the pipes for the Blues. Halak is 3-1-0 with a 2.19 GAA in four road starts.

St. Louis gave up two short-handed goals on the same power play Saturday for the first time in more than 20 years. But the Capitals have gone 0 for 11 on the power play in their last three games after converting 7 of 16 in their previous three.

Washington had won three straight at home in this series before St. Louis claimed a 2-1 win behind Halak's 18 saves in the most recent meeting Nov. 29, 2011.

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