WASHINGTON -- When Washington winger Alex Ovechkin saw how his center was playing early Wednesday night, he got a good feeling about the Capitals' chances.
Ovechkin notched his 16th career hat trick, linemate Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and an assist, and the Capitals defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-3.
"Right away," Ovechkin said regarding when he knew it was going to be one of those nights for him. "I think Kuzi was flying today."
Ovechkin, who has five goals in his last four games and 12 overall, scored in each period for his first three-goal game of the season.
"It's fun to watch when he's making the shot," Kuznetsov said, "and when he's feeling it, it's tough to stop him."
Kuznetsov was feeling it as well, having one of his best games of the season. He made it 3-1 at 6:31 of the third period when he got behind a defenseman and one-timed a beautiful cross-ice pass from Dmitry Orlov past the sliding Carter Hutton.
Only 22 seconds later, Ovechkin completed his hat trick with a wrist shot from the left circle on a rush, and the game was delayed briefly as hats rained down on the ice.
"He played with excitement again," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "That was good. I think sometimes we say he's not scoring enough and all that. ... I've been reducing the minutes a little bit and spreading them out. He's fresher and I think it will pay off in the long run."
Ovechkin also had a hat trick the last time the Capitals played the Blues on April 9 in St. Louis. He moved past Jaromir Jagr (15 hat tricks) for the lead among active players.
Braden Holtby made 18 saves for Washington (12-5-2) and Andre Burakovsky, on the Ovechkin-Kuznetsov line, had two assists.
Alex Pietrangelo and Alex Tarasenko scored in the 1:15 to pull the Blues within 4-3.
Tarasenko also scored in the second period for St. Louis (11-7-3), which had won four straight. He has 13 points (including five goals) in his last 10 games.
Hutton made 21 saves for the Blues, who were playing the second of back-to-backs.
"I've got to better. Can't really worry about back-to-back, whatever it is, from my perspective," Hutton said. "That's a good hockey team. Ovechkin beat us tonight."
Washington had four power plays in the first period and cashed in on the last one. Ovechkin scored his 10th goal of the season when he took a pass from Kuznetsov, waited momentarily and then wristed a high shot past Hutton on the glove side with 2:32 remaining.
"He just said, I'm going to play, I'm going to play in a straight line. I'm going to take pucks to the net.'" Trotz said of Kuznetsov. "I thought he got to the interior. Because he forced himself in there, everything opened up."
The Blues, despite 2:05 of power-play time, managed only two shots on Holtby in the first period.
"When you don't use your legs, you end up using your stick, and that's what's happening," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of the first-period penalties. "There's too many of them early in the game. Sends the wrong message to the rest of the team."
Ovechkin made it 2-0 midway through the second. Moments after just missing with a one-timer from the left circle, Ovechkin got a feed in the same spot from defenseman John Carlson and this one-timer beat a sliding Hutton.
Tarasenko got one back 36 seconds later. After Holtby stopped him in front, Tarasenko got the rebound and fired over Holtby from a tough angle for his eighth goal of the season.
"When we mounted the comeback in the second period, got some momentum back, (then) we got beat up the ice on two of the rushes (in the third period)," Hitchcock said.
NOTES: Peter Bondra holds the Capitals' team record with 19 career hat tricks. ... Capitals F Lars Eller (upper-body injury) returned after missing one game. D Taylor Chorney was scratched. ... Washington C Nicklas Backstrom celebrated his 29th birthday. Since he entered the NHL in 2007-08, Backstrom ranks sixth in multi-point games (180). ... Blues C Paul Stastny (five goals) is already halfway to his 10-goal total from last season. ... After playing Tuesday night in Boston, the Blues arrived in Washington around 1 a.m. and cancelled their morning skate. ... D Petteri Lindbohm and RW Ty Rattie were the St. Louis scratches.