The Olympic break is coming just in time for the suddenly slumping Washington Capitals. The St. Louis Blues would likely prefer to keep playing.
David Perron scored the lone goal in the fourth round of the shootout, lifting the Blues to a 4-3 victory over the suddenly struggling Capitals on Saturday night. The Caps entered the week with a 14-game winning streak and dreams of tying the NHL record when they came to ScottradeCenter. Instead, they lost 6-5 games at Montreal and Ottawa before dropping the shootout before a packed house of 19,150.
It was the first time in six games that they failed to score at least five goals. However, they allowed 23 in that span as well.
"It's a good time for a rest for our group of guys," said captain Alex Ovechkin - who won't be getting any rest; he's flying to Vancouver to play for Russia's Olympic team. "We'll just reload our weapons and be ready for the second half of the season."
Chris Mason stopped Alexander Semin, Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Brendan Morrison in the shootout and made 31 saves through 65 minutes for the Blues, who won all three of their games this week while trying to climb into playoff contention in the Western Conference.
Ovechkin, who leads the NHL with 42 goals and 89 points, came up empty on eight shots.
Blues coach Davis Payne said holding Ovi off the scoresheet was a team effort.
"You saw him a couple times there in the third period and overtime wind those jets up," Payne said. "Not a very comfortable feeling.
"You don't do it individually, you do it with all five guys on the ice and then sometimes have to rely on the goaltender as well."
The Blues still have one of the NHL's poorest home records at 12-16-5, but winning three times at ScottradeCenter this week has them within three of a playoff spot.
"Regardless of who it's against, these points are huge for us," Mason said. "We've been up and down throughout the season. These wins at home are absolutely huge."
Jose Theodore made saves against Patrik Berglund, T.J. Oshie and Brad Boyes before Perron rattled a backhander that hit the post and deflected into the net off Theodore's head in the fourth round.
"It was kind of lucky, too," Perron said. "It hit the post and it hit his back and then goes in, but I'll take it. It was a good feeling, but let's keep building on that."
Mike Knuble had two goals for the Capitals, who did move one point ahead of San Jose for the overall NHL lead.
"I'm sure they wanted to finish with a couple of points before the break and feel like when everybody comes back they're right there," Knuble said. "Sometimes you don't know how these games go before the break. Sometimes, no whistles, and sometimes they're really hard-fought."
St. Louis took three one-goal leads in the first two periods, only to have the Capitals get even each time.
Patrik Berglund had an easy tap-in after Roman Polak's wraparound attempt slid through the crease at 9:13 of the first for St. Louis. Mike Knuble tied it less than two minutes during a two-man advantage.
Oshie scored his 13th of the season, and second in two nights, converting a setup from Paul Kariya on a break midway through the second, but Alexander Semin's shot from the right point, his 30th goal of the season, made it 2-2 at 13:26.
Erik Johnson scored on a power play just under two minutes later, but Knuble swatted in a rebound for his 23rd of the season at 17:43.
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report