The St. Louis Blues ran into a hot team and suffered a rare regulation loss their last time out. Their next opponent may not provide nearly as stiff a challenge.
The Blues look to rebound as they visit the last-place Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.
St. Louis (13-3-3) came into Sunday's matchup with surging Washington having gone 5-0-1 in its previous six, but lost 4-1 despite outshooting the Capitals 47-20.
The Blues posted a season high in shots despite playing for the second straight day and third time in four days. St. Louis trailed 3-0 after the opening 20 minutes and was mostly shut down by Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby.
"We had lots of shots, but we didn't have any real penetration, or good shots," said defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who notched an assist on Vladimir Sobotka's power-play goal and has a goal and four assists during a four-game point streak. "That wasn't our best game, for sure."
The Blues had scored first in their previous 10 games.
"First period, we were a step behind," Bouwmeester said. "To get down like that against a tough team like that, it's tough."
Alexander Steen failed to record a point for just the second time this season. Washington's Alex Ovechkin pulled even with him for the league lead with 17 goals by scoring twice.
Steen will try to bounce back as St. Louis plays the second of a three-game trip looking for a third consecutive win over Buffalo (5-16-1), which has the fewest points in the league. The Sabres, whose 68 goals allowed are tied for second-most in the Eastern Conference, had won a season-high two in a row before falling 4-2 at Toronto on Saturday.
Like St. Louis, Buffalo lost despite dominating the shots category while playing for the second time in as many days. The Sabres held a 35-22 advantage overall and 17-5 in the third period.
The Sabres scored twice in the third to cut the deficit to one but gave up a power-play goal with 1:04 remaining.
"We got off to a little bit of a slow start but I was more impressed with the game tonight than I was with last night," said Ted Nolan, who coached his second game since making his return to the bench for Buffalo. "I thought the majority of the play was in their zone the whole third period and the last part of the second period. We have some corrections we have to make and I'm looking forward to doing that."
Buffalo's usually feeble power play has been effective over the past three games, going 3 for 8 while scoring in each contest. The Sabres have converted 15.4 percent of their chances on the season.
The Blues have also been producing with the man advantage, going 5 for 14 in the last three contests.
Ryan Miller seems likely to return to the Buffalo net after Jhonas Enroth got the call in the second game of the back-to-back. Miller, who's been solid in allowing three total goals in his last two outings after a rough start to the season, is 1-3-0 with a 3.03 goals-against average in four career starts versus St. Louis.
It's uncertain who will be in goal for the Blues after Jaroslav Halak was pulled in favor of Brian Elliott on Sunday after allowing three goals on six shots in the first 15:41. Elliott made 13 saves and has given up two or fewer goals in three of his four starts this season.
He's 8-0-2 with a 1.67 GAA in his career against the Sabres.
The Blues have won 12 of 14 in the series.
Sabres veteran defenseman Mike Weber has come off injured reserve and is expected to play after missing 10 games with a thumb injury.