After starting strong, the Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues each have run into a rough stretch in the first month of the season.
Both look to bounce back from losses when they meet for the first time in 21 months Saturday night at the Scottrade Center.
St. Louis (5-3-0) fell 3-0 at Columbus on Thursday for its second loss in three games since winning four in a row after a season-opening loss. It was the first time in 67 games dating to a 2-0 home loss to San Jose on Nov. 28 that the Blues have been shut out.
"(Columbus) stuck with their game longer than we did," said Blues coach Andy Murray, whose team is 3-1-0 at home. "They were better than us."
The Blues hope veterans Paul Kariya and Keith Tkachuk can provide a spark similar to when they combined for two goals and seven points in a 4-2 home victory over Anaheim on Tuesday in their most recent victory.
Kariya - in his first season with St. Louis - and Tkachuk are the Blues' top two scorers with a combined six goals and 20 points. The pair have each recorded 23 career points against Washington, with Tkachuk posting 14 in his last seven contests versus the Capitals.
Manny Legace is expected to be in net Saturday for St. Louis after sitting out Thursday's loss. He has four wins and a 2.01 goals-against average, but hasn't started against Washington since a 2-1 win while with Detroit on April 1, 2001.
Washington (4-5-0) fell 3-2 at home to Vancouver on Friday for its fifth loss in six games since starting 3-0.
Though the Capitals snapped a three-game drought without a power-play goal by going 2-for-5 Friday, they are 6-for-44 (13.6 percent) and near the bottom of the NHL with the man advantage. They did show signs of improvement Friday after deploying a five-forward attack on their power play.
Leading scorer Alex Ovechkin looks for his third straight multi-point game Saturday after adding a goal and assist against the Canucks. He has five points in his last two contests and had a goal and assist in Washington's 5-4 shootout victory over St. Louis on Jan. 19, 2006 in the most recent meeting between the teams.
The Capitals could be without captain Chris Clark on Saturday after he was hit in the head with an Ovechkin slap shot Friday. Clark, who had two assists Friday and a goal and assist in the last meeting with St. Louis, needed stitches in his left ear.
"It's not going to be good," Washington coach Glen Hanlon said.
Ovechkin hopes his linemate will be able to go Saturday. Clark has recorded all four of his points this season in his last two contests.
"He's our leader. He's a great guy in the locker room, an unbelievable player on the ice," said Ovechkin, who has six goals and five assists.
Washington is playing its first game in St. Louis since 2003 and will try to avoid a seventh straight loss there dating to a 6-4 victory on Oct. 26, 1996.