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11/17/2013 10:03 PM EST
Ovechkin gets 2 to tie Steen; Caps top Blues 4-1
WASHINGTON 4, ST LOUIS 1

By JOSEPH WHITE
AP Sports Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Ovechkin once. Ovechkin twice. Steen not at
all.

Just like that, there's a tie atop the NHL goal scoring race, as
well as a new leader in the Metropolitan Division.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 16th and 17th goals in the first
period, while Alexander Steen was held pointless for only the
second time this season Sunday night in the Washington Capitals'
4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues.

"For me, it means a lot," Ovechkin said. "It's always nice to
score big goals in big game, but it was a very good team effort
today."

Braden Holtby made 46 saves, a career high for a regular season
game. Mikhail Grabovski and John Carlson also scored, and
Nicklas Backstrom had three assists for the Capitals, who have
won three straight win and seven out of nine to leapfrog the
Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the division.

Vladimir Sobotka scored in the second period for the Blues, who
had won eight of 10. The Capitals caught them at a good time,
with St. Louis playing for the third time in four nights and on
the second half of a back-to-back after a home win over the
Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.

"We knew they're a hot team, they're a good team, strong, and we
knew their situation last night and what they had to deal with,"
Carlson said. "And I'm sure they're saying it's not an excuse,
but for us we wanted to jump on them as quick as possible."

Sure enough, the Blues said the schedule wasn't an excuse, but
they also knew they couldn't afford to be playing catch-up with
tired legs.

"First period, we were a step behind," St. Louis defenseman Jay
Bouwmeester said. "To get down like that against a tough like
that, it's tough."

The Blues took a season-high 47 shots compared to 20 for the
Capitals, but the statistic is misleading. St. Louis' quality
chances were few and far between, while Washington scored on
three of its first six shots.

Ovechkin got the first two. Sprung on a pass at center ice by
Backstrom - another sign of the solid chemistry that has
developed between the two - Ovechkin sped past the Blues
defensemen and into the right circle for a clean look, beating
goaltender Jaroslav Halak stick-side. Ovechkin then flicked in a
rebound off a shot by Karl Alzner to give the Capitals a 2-0
lead less than 13 minutes into the game.

Meanwhile, Steen finished with three shots on goal and another
four that were blocked. His points streak came to an end at 13
games, the longest for a Blues player since Pierre Turgeon's
15-game run in 1999-2000.

"We had lots of shots, but we didn't have any real penetration,
or good shots," Bouwmeester said. "That wasn't our best game,
for sure."

After Ovechkin's two goals, Grabovski poked in a rebound from a
tight angle to make it 3-0 late in the first period.

The Blues and Capitals also have the top two power plays in the
NHL, and they traded man-advantage goals in the second period.
Sobotka and Carlson each scored with a drive through traffic
from high in the slot, with Carlson's goal ending an 0 for 11
power-play drought for Washington over the previous three games.

"Obviously we expected them to be a little tired," Washington
coach Adam Oates said. "But I don't think those goals came from
fatigue. I think we got rewarded for doing the right things."

Notes: The Blues had scored first in their previous 10 games.
... The Capitals have won six in a row at home. ... Washington D
Mike Green missed his second consecutive game with a lower body
injury and was placed on injured reserve. Oates said Green might
return for Wednesday's game against the Penguins. ... The
Capitals recalled D Dmitry Orlov from Hershey of the AHL. ...
Holtby had a 47-save game in the 2012 playoffs against the New
York Rangers.

---

Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

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