Walker scores, Blues beat Capitals 5-2 to snap 3-game skid

WASHINGTON — Nathan Walker scored the go-ahead goal hours after being called up, helping the St. Louis Blues snap a three-game skid with a 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.

Brandon Saad and Brayden Schenn each had a goal and an assist, and captain Ryan O’Reilly scored on the power play for St. Louis, which had lost seven of its past nine games. David Perron added an empty-netter to extend his goal -scoring streak to seven games, and Ville Husso made 19 saves for his 16th victory of the season.

A big concern moving forward may be the status of defenseman Torey Krug, who left in the second period with an upper-body injury and did not return.

Thanks to a series of turnovers and defensive zone miscues, the Capitals lost a second consecutive game in regulation to fall to 7-2-1 in March. Tom Wilson had a goal and an assist, Evgeny Kuznetsov scored and Vitek Vanecek allowed four goals on 37 shots.

In a matchup of the 2018 and 2019 Stanley Cup champions, all six goals were scored by a player who has hoisted hockey’s hallowed trophy.

Walker, who won the Cup with the Capitals four years ago after they drafted him in 2014, was only in the Blues lineup because of a combination of injury, illness, the salary cap and a move made before the trade deadline Monday. With Vladimir Tarasenko and Robert Thomas out and after Oskar Sundqvist was traded to Detroit for defenseman Nick Leddy, the Blues were down to 10 healthy forwards before recalling Walker under emergency conditions Tuesday morning.

The only Australian player in league history, Walker scored in the NHL for the first time since Dec. 12 – his fifth goal of the season after a hat trick Dec. 9. The 28-year-old spent much of the past three months in the minors but could stick this time around if he’s able to continue producing.

There might be an opportunity for Walker, who fits the changing identity of the Blues as more of a skilled, high-scoring force than the knock-down, drag-out team that wore down opponents on the way to the franchise’s first title three years ago.

Kuznetsov extended his career-best point streak to 10 games. Wilson matched his single-season career high with 44 points with 15 games remaining before the playoffs.

The Capitals are heading there in the East, and the Blues are in strong position in the West. Each team plugged a new player – one a familiar face – into the lineup after making moves at the trade deadline.

Leddy made his Blues debut, going from the rebuilding Red Wings right into the thick of a playoff race.

“It’s the best time of the year,” he said. “There’s nothing like playoff hockey. Definitely very excited for the push.”

Marcus Johansson played his first game in a Capitals uniform since the 2017 playoffs after they got him from Seattle for one-dimensional forward Daniel Sprong, a fourth-round pick this summer and a sixth in 2023. Johansson played his first seven NHL seasons with Washington before being traded.

“This is the one place I wanted to go,” Johansson said. “Coming here, it still feels like home.”

NOTES: Each team dressed 11 forwards and seven defenseman. … Washington only had 11 healthy forwards on the roster because winger TJ Oshie (lower-body injury) was out for a third consecutive game and center Nic Dowd (upper) missed his second in a row. … Tarasenko missed a second consecutive game with an illness.

UP NEXT

Blues: Host the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.

Capitals: Visit the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night.

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