While other teams around the league are scrambling to make the playoffs this past week, the Blues are comfortable with having clinched earlier this season. Perhaps, too comfortable.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Washington dominated St. Louis with a 5-1 victory as Alex Ovechkin netted a hat trick to reach 50 goals this season for the third straight season and seventh time of his career. Ovechkin joins an exclusive club of Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy (nine each), of at least seven seasons scoring 50 or more goals.
After the defeat, the Blues finish the season at 107 points with a record of 49-24-9. The seeding is now set for St. Louis as it will once again face off against the Chicago Blackhawks for the 12th playoff series against each other. Chicago is 8-3 in those series including the most recent matchup in first round set in 2014.
In the loss, Vladamir Tarasenko notched the lone goal, his team-leading 40th of the season.
Ken Hitchcock pulled Brian Elliott after allowing four goals on 26 shots faced as Anders Nilsson made nine stops in relief while allowing one goal against.
Despite the loss, the Blues jumped out to an early lead.
Alex Pietrangelo worked along the side boards as he moved to his right. Pietrangelo shielded the puck from Karl Alzner and swept behind the net before giving a feed to the high slot. Tarasenko corralled the puck and fired it between the legs of Brayden Holtby making it 1-0 with 18:45 left in the first period.
Then, Ovechkin took over.
A strong forecheck by the Caps caused Colton Parayko to cough up the puck in his own end. The puck squirted to T.J. Oshie who drew three defenders to him before sliding it to Ovechkin. Ovechkin one-timed a shot into the back of the net tying the game at one with 15:56 left in the first.
Off the face off in the attacking end, Nicklas Backstrom won the draw back to Ovechkin at the top of the circle. Ovechkin toe dragged past one defender before sending a wrist shot past Elliott giving the Caps their first lead of the game 6:49 into the game.
Washington tallied two second-period goals to take a commanding 4-1 lead as Ovechkin searched for number three on the night and 50 on the year.
In the third period, the Capitals entered the zone on a three on one as Backstrom held the puck drifting toward the net. Pietrangelo dove to the ice trying to break up the pass attempt, but Backstrom got the puck over to Ovechkin who fired past the right pad of Elliott capping the night off.
The next time the Blues hit the ice will be game one from the Scottrade Center against Chicago.
Arch City Sports/KOMU-TV