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Caps try for first win in St. Louis since 1996

by Brian Compton /
CAPITALS (17-6-2) at BLUES (12-8-3)

TV -- NHL Network (U.S), CSN-DC, FS-Midwest

Last 10 -- Washington 6-2-2; St. Louis 3-6-1.

Season series -- This is the first of two meetings between the teams. They'll meet again at the Verizon Center on March 3, 2011.

Big story -- It's a tale of teams that seem to be going in opposite directions. The Capitals enter Wednesday's action in search of their fourth consecutive win, while the reeling Blues, who got off to a phenomenal 9-2-1 start, have won only three times in their last 10 games. The woes continued for St. Louis on Tuesday night as it dropped a 7-5 decision in Chicago.

Washington fans will have to wait to get their first look at defenseman Scott Hannan, who was acquired from the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday in exchange for forward Tomas Fleischmann. Hannan, 31, who had 6 assists in 23 games for the Avs, will be watching his new team from the press box according to coach Bruce Boudreau.

Team Scope:

Capitals -- The win streak reached three for Washington on Sunday when it managed a 3-2 shootout win against the Carolina Hurricanes at the Verizon Center. Overtime was required when Eric Staal erased the Caps' 2-1 lead with just 7.3 seconds remaining in regulation. The Hurricanes nearly won it overtime, but Semyon Varlamov robbed Ian White to extend the contest.

"The one he made in overtime was obviously a game-saver," coach Boudreau said. "He made some great saves as he has all week since he's gotten here."

Blues -- St. Louis certainly did its best to stay in Tuesday's showdown at the United Center, as it cut a 5-2 deficit to 5-4. But Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews scored less than two minutes apart in the third period to put the game out of reach.

"We obviously needed to play a little bit longer before we gave up that sixth goal," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "We felt we were doing some things out there."

Who's hot -- Varlamov has a 1.87 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage in four starts this season. Meanwhile, Alex Ovechkin has 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) in 25 games. … David Backes had a goal and 3 assists for the Blues on Tuesday night.

Injury report -- Caps defensemen Mike Green (leg) and Tom Poti (groin) are day-to-day. … The Blues are still without forwards David Perron (concussion) and T.J. Oshie (ankle) and defenseman Roman Polak (wrist).

Stat pack --Once he suits up for the Caps, Hannan will give Washington's defense a much-needed injection of experience. He brings 12 years of experience and 775 career games in the NHL. … With Saturday's 2-1 loss to Dallas at Scottrade Center, the Blues became the last team in the NHL to lose a regulation game on home ice. But they haven't lost to the Caps in St. Louis since Oct. 26, 1996 -- the Caps are 0-7-1 in their last eight visits.

Puck drop -- "We were looking to acquire an experienced defensive defenseman who can help us on the penalty kill and settle things down when things need to be settled down in tight games. We've been looking for a while and he was available, so we thought it was the right time to do it." -- Caps GM George McPhee on the acquisition of Scott Hannan
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