It appeared the Washington Capitals were going to let another muti-goal lead get away from them Wednesday night against the St. Louis Blues. Up by two late in the second period, the Capitals allowed Alexander Semin to beat a screened Semyon Varlamov with 32 second left to pull the Blues to within one.
Nicklas Backstrom didn't allow the late tally to stand.
Backstrom tallied twice in the third period, the first on a rebound of a Mike Knuble shot at 7:06, then again on an empty net goal with 35 seconds remaining, to secure the 4-1 win and the Capitals fourth straight win overall. Washington also received a first period goal from Brooks Laich and a second period goal from Boyd Gordon to build a 2-0 lead.
Semyon Varlamov made 37 saves to earn his fourth straight win after missing virtually all of the first two months of the season with a groin injury. The win was the Capitals first in St. Louis since October of 1996, a stretch that saw the Capitals go 0-7-1 in St. Louis. It was also the Capitals first game against Jaroslav Halak, the Blues netminder who was instrumental in the Capitals historic first round playoff loss last spring as a member of the Montreal Canadiens.
Several Capitals said before the game that they wanted to exact a bit of revenge on Halak, though the always diplomatic Brooks Laich said he was "indifferent" since Halak no longer plays for the Canadiens. In a bit of irony, it was Laich who tallied the games first goal, as he put home a rebound of a Backstrom shot on the power play at 8:12 of the first period.
Gordon's goal was a bit more fortunate, but counted nonetheless. Gordon's backhander from the goal line bounced up on Halak, and when Halak went to grab it with his catching glove, it bounced out an into the net at 10:02 of the second period.
Wednesday night was the Capitals first since the Tuesday trade that saw forward Tomas Fleischmann shipped to the Colorado Avalance for shutdown defenseman Scott Hannan. Hannan did not suit up against the Blues, but Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau has already said Hannan will make his Capitals debut Thursday night in Dallas against the Stars.
The Capitals did lose veteran defenseman Tom Poti at some point in the second period and he did not return. No announcement was made about Poti's status.