The St. Louis Blues have gotten most of their production from one line during a torrid stretch, but with one high-profile player back from injury and another having snapped a pointless streak, they’re hoping to spread out the scoring even more.
The Blues haven’t generated enough goals in most of their recent meetings with the Washington Capitals but will be seeking their 10th win in 11 games in this season’s first matchup Saturday night.
Vladimir Tarasenko, Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz have combined for 16 of St. Louis’ 30 goals in the last 10 games and totaled 22 assists. Tarasenko has been the most potent player on the "STL line" with nine goals and seven assists in the last 10 games, and six and six during a seven-game point streak to open this month.
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He scored in the second period of a 4-3 win against Nashville on Thursday, and St. Louis (11-4-1) got two more notable contributions. T.J. Oshie scored a power-play goal 3:25 into the game after missing the previous seven with a concussion, and Paul Stastny had the tiebreaking goal in the third period to end a five-game point drought.
Stastny was playing his fourth game since returning from a wrist injury.
"It was great," Oshie said. "It’s good to have multiple lines scoring. It’s harder to defend. It’s kind of a shared thing here that we take a lot of pride in."
The Capitals haven’t had too much difficulty slowing down the Blues while winning four of the last five matchups. They’ve outscored St. Louis 16-7, including a pair of 4-1 victories last season.
Washington heads into the Scottrade Center after having a season-high three-game win streak snapped Friday with a 1-0 loss to New Jersey. The Capitals (7-6-3) totaled 11 goals during their three consecutive victories and 19 in their prior five games before Friday’s loss.
"I think we did (play the right way) for most of the game today, but we had to have a little more urgency," forward Marcus Johansson said.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Alex Ovechkin (three goals, six assists) and Nicklas Backstrom (two goals, six assists) were two of the main producers during that high-scoring stretch. Johansson had a team-best four goals and two assists.
Backstrom has led the way with six goals and four assists in the last five games against St. Louis, and Ovechkin has five goals and nine assists in nine career matchups. He had three goals and two assists in the two victories over the Blues last season.
Brian Elliott could get the chance to try to keep the Capitals from reigniting their offense. He’s 6-3-1 with a 1.96 goals-against average in 10 games this season but is 4-2-0 with a 3.50 GAA in eight career appearances against Washington, his highest GAA versus any opponent.
Having played on back-to-back nights, the Capitals could give Justin Peters his second career start against St. Louis, but Braden Holtby is 2-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA in two lifetime matchups. Peters took a 4-2 loss at Scottrade on Nov. 16, 2013, while with Carolina.
Stastny had a combined three assists in two victories against Washington last season while with Colorado and has six points (one goal, five assists) in his last four matchups.