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Caps Drop Blues, 7-3

All 12 forwards find scoresheet as Caps score four times in less than 10 minutes in second period to coast to victory in St. Louis.

by Mike Vogel @VogsCaps / Monumental Sports Network

After Monday's aberrational 8-7 loss to the Penguins in Pittsburgh ended the Capitals' nine-game winning streak, there wasn't any hand-wringing or discussion about the game. The Capitals were off the next day, and they never spent any time going over the video of the game. They merely parked it and moved on. 

 

Video: Seven Capitals score in 7-3 victory against Blues

"We didn't watch any video on it, and we haven't really talked much about it," says Caps defenseman Brooks Orpik of the loss to the Pens on Monday. 

"We really didn't even look at it," says Caps coach Barry Trotz. "We know that you're going to have games where it's going to be just strange." 

On Thursday night in St. Louis, the Caps were involved in another strange one. This time, they came out on the right side, dismantling the Blues 7-3 to extend their streak of games with a point to a dozen straight (10-0-2). 

Three nights after he was pulled in the second period against the Penguins, Braden Holtby turned in another strong bounce back game in the Washington nets. Holtby was excellent early on when the game was still in doubt, and he finished with 22 saves and his 22nd win of the season. 

"Tonight, I didn't think we played particularly well," says Trotz. "In the first period, the Blues had a lot of chances and I thought Holts was really good. Fortunately for us, the Blues didn't get a save, especially early, and they dug a little hole there." 
Video: Coach Trotz on the 7-3 victory over the Blues tonight
Washington scored in bunches, netting seven goals for the second time in as many games, and achieving that rare feat for the first time in nearly 24 years. The Caps also exploited the Blues' tenuous goaltending situation. St. Louis starter Jake Allen - who blanked the Capitals in his only previous career start against them - was pulled after permitting two goals on three shots before the first period was halfway over. It marked the third straight start in which Allen did not finish the game. He has not won since defeating Chicago in the 2017 Winter Classic on Jan. 2.

Blues bench boss Ken Hitchcock reinstalled Allen after less than three minutes of playing time, but the beleaguered netminder was pulled again after Brett Connolly scored at 7:33 of the second period to give Washington a 4-1 lead.

Carter Hutton came on in relief for the second time in as many periods, and 11 seconds later Marcus Johansson gave him a baptism of fire to make it a 5-1 game. Johansson's goal gave the Capitals production from all four lines before the game was even half over.

By night's end, the Caps had seven goals on a single-game season low 18 shots, becoming the first NHL team in more than a decade to score as many as seven goals on 18 or fewer shots. The Capitals teed up a meager total of just 29 shot attempts on the night. 
Video: WSH@STL: Burakovsky sneaks opening goal through Allen
For the ninth straight game, the Caps scored the game's first goal. For the second time in as many games, Andre Burakovsky got the Caps started, scoring the game's first goal on a feed from Daniel Winnik at 5:37 of the first. 

Less than two minutes later, Jay Beagle converted a Winnik feed to make it 2-0, sending Allen to the bench for the first time. 

Just 19 seconds into the second period, Blues winger Jaden Schwartz sent a shot through traffic from the right point, and it beat Caps goalie Braden Holtby to halve the Washington lead to 2-1.

T.J. Oshie got that one back for Washington less than four minutes later, finishing off a pretty passing sequence with a backhander to make it a 3-1 game at 3:47 of the second. 

After Connolly and Johansson's goals, Justin Williams scored from the diamond spot on the Washington power play to make it a 6-1 game. Williams' goal was the Caps' fourth goal in a span of less than 10 minutes. 
Video: Andre Burakovsky discusses his success on NHL Tonight
"We sort of stabilized in the second," says Trotz, "but they obviously scored on the first shift. And then I loved our response. The next shift or the shift after, we had a real quick push and had some good fortune. We had some goals that went in a little bit easier, a deflection and all that.

"In the third, we just tried to manage. We didn't really try to forecheck, we just sort of tried to kill the clock a little bit."

It showed. The Caps only mustered a pair of shots on net in the third period, but still got one of them to the back of the net.

Evgeny Kuznetsov went top shelf on Hutton at 6:20 of the third period to finish off the Capitals' scoring for the evening. The Blues got a pair of late tallies from Alexander Steen to make the score look more respectable than it did at the start of the third. 

For the fifth time in as many games, the Caps netted five or more goals in a contest. The last time they were able to do that was at the tail end of their franchise record 14-game winning streak in the winter of 2010, nearly seven years ago. All 12 Washington forwards registered at least a point in Thursday's game, and none of them had more than two points on the night.
Video: Caps players talk after a 7-3 win vs. St. Louis
"It's actually kind of strange right now that everything seems to be going in," says Williams. "I think you have to recognize the process and don't get carried away by scoring five, six, seven goals a night. It's not going to last, and we're realistic about that. You ride the highs and we need to understand reality."

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