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Steen, Ovechkin meet as Blues face off vs. Capitals

by Brian Compton

BLUES (13-2-3) at CAPITALS (11-8-1)


Last 10: St. Louis 8-1-1; Washington 6-3-1

Season series: This is the first of two meetings between the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals. They won't face each other again until April 8 at Scottrade Center.

Big story: Alexander Steen and the Blues continue to roll, attempting to keep pace with the Chicago Blackhawks in the Central Division. Steen scored his 17th goal of the season Saturday night, helping the Blues earn a 4-2 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Steen added an assist and passed Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby to grab the NHL scoring lead with 26 points. He also extended his point streak to 13 games. He has 13 goals and five assists over that stretch.

Team Scope:

Blues: After watching a 2-0 lead evaporate in 57 seconds late in the second period, Steen responded for St. Louis 6:20 into the third and T.J. Oshie scored an empty-net goal in the final minute to help the Blues finish their five-game homestand with a 4-0-1 record.

"Big goal ... big-time player, big goal," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Steen. "We needed that goal right there. We dialed it up.

"We really had a good start to the third period. We really dialed it up, and I thought we took control of the hockey game again."

Capitals: After a 4-3 shootout win against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on Friday night, Washington returns to Verizon Center to begin a three-game homestand. The Capitals trailed 3-1 before Alex Ovechkin and Michael Latta scored in the third period to force overtime.

Ovechkin believes the growth of linemate Marcus Johansson has played a huge role in recent games.

"To be honest with you, it's just experience," Ovechkin told reporters after practice Saturday. "What we have on the line and he's growing up like a player and like a person as well. He's playing with confidence right now. He's not afraid to take a hit, make a move. It's good for us."

Who's hot: Blues captain David Backes has two goals and three assists during a three-game point streak. Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester has five points (one goal, four assists) in as many games. … Ovechkin has seven points (five goals, two assists) in the past seven games.

Injury report: St. Louis defenseman Jordan Leopold (hand) and forward Magnus Paajarvi (upper body) are on injured reserve. … Capitals defenseman Mike Green (lower body) will not play against the Blues. Green has been day-to-day since playing more than 23 minutes last Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Defensemen John Erskine (upper body) and Jack Hillen (leg) are out.

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