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Capitals aim to keep slim playoff hopes alive vs. Blues

by David Kalan

CAPITALS (35-30-7) at BLUES (52-19-7)


Last 10: Washington 4-3-3; St. Louis 5-5-0

Season series: This is the final game of season between the Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues. The Capitals defeated the Blues 4-1 on Nov. 17, 2013 at Verizon Center.

Big story: Washington and St. Louis are each in need of a win, but for different reasons. Losers of two straight, the Blues are stumbling offensively and in the standings, which has cost them ground in the race for the Presidents' Trophy.

The Capitals' Stanley Cup Playoff hopes are slipping away. Washington, which sits four points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, will likely need to run the table if it hopes to return to the postseason in 2014.

Team Scope:

Capitals: Washington has one win in its past six games and hasn't won in regulation since March 18 against the Anaheim Ducks. The Capitals' postseason hopes might already be dashed were it not for an impressive rally in their most-recent game Saturday night. Washington trailed the New York Islanders 3-1 in the second period before tying the game and eventually winning in a shootout.

"I don't think there's any mental relief, we have a hefty job to do still," Capitals goalie Braden Holtby said afterward. "So I think that's one step that we needed to do, and we have to keep building, have to keep finding a way to win games like we did [Saturday]."

After visiting St. Louis on Tuesday, the Capitals will play their final road game of the season against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.

Blues: Two points behind the Boston Bruins in the Presidents' Trophy race, the Blues are 2-3-0 in their past five games with an average of 1.20 goals per game. They were shut out in two of those games and have been outscored 8-2 in their past two.

"I think the details of our game are probably lacking," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We look like we're a little bit tired, so the details that fit us so well and our energy to put those details in place are probably lacking a little bit right now. But we still have four more games to play, so we have a lot of hockey to play yet. We have to find a way to re-energize ourselves and get back to work."

Who's hot: Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom has five points in his past four games. ... Blues forward Jaden Schwartz has two points in his past three games.

Injury report: Blues forward Alexander Steen (upper body) will return to the lineup after missing three games. Forward Vladimir Tarasenko (hand surgery) remains out. ... Capitals defensemen Patrick Wey (head), Mike Green (upper body) and Jack Hillen (upper body), and forward Brooks Laich (groin injury) are out.

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