For almost a month, the Washington Capitals couldn't lose. In the week before the NHL's Olympic break, the Eastern Conference's top team can't find a way to win.
It might not get easier Saturday night when the Capitals look to avoid a third straight loss while trying to beat the Blues in St. Louis for the first time in over 13 years.
The hottest team in the league over the past month, Washington (41-13-7) won a team-record 14 straight games before a pair of 6-5 losses, at Montreal in overtime Wednesday, and in Ottawa a night later.
"Anytime you score 10 goals, you should be able to win the games," defenseman Brian Pothier told the Capitals' official Web site.
Despite the Capitals' recent skid, they're still tied with San Jose for the most points (89) in the NHL with only this contest left before the break. However, that doesn't seem to be enough to satisfy coach Bruce Boudreau, especially after his team gave up three first-period goals, then took the lead in the second period before allowing three straight Ottawa goals Thursday.
"It was an ugly display," said Boudreau, who's team has scored 26 goals in its last five games, but allowed 16 in the last three. "You're not going to win when you give up six goals and maybe five of them are bad ones and our 'D' can't make a play. It's awful."
The Capitals' record in St. Louis has been awful in recent years. Though Washington won 4-2 in the teams' most recent meeting at home Dec. 18, 2008, it's been outscored 25-10 during a seven-game road losing streak against the Blues that dates to a 6-4 win there Oct. 26, 1996.
St. Louis has the worst home record in the NHL at 11-16-5, but it has won two in a row at Scottrade Center.
"It's going to be a different kind of test (Saturday)," Chris Mason told the Blues' official Web site after he made 30 saves in a 4-0 home win over Toronto on Friday.
Washington has used three goalies in its last two contests. Semyon Varlamov made 22 saves Thursday in his return after missing 29 games with a knee injury.
Jose Theodore could be back in net after having his 10-game winning streak snapped against Montreal. Though Theodore is 20-7-5 with a 2.94 goals-against average this season, he's 1-5-0 with a 4.50 GAA versus the Blues.
For the first time in franchise history, Capital players have recorded a hat trick in three straight games. Star Alex Ovechkin scored three goals in a 5-4 overtime win against Pittsburgh on Sunday. Brooks Laich did the same at Montreal and Alexander Semin recorded his first of the season Thursday.
Ovechkin has nine goals and 10 assists during a nine-game points streak. He has two with three assists in three career games versus St. Louis.
Coming off his fourth shutout of the season and with the break looming, Mason could be back in net. for the Blues. He's 2-0-0 with a 1.47 GAA against the Capitals.
Alex Steen scored for the third time in five games Friday for the Blues, who are 12th in the West but four points out of the last playoff spot.