When Sunday began there was only one player in the NHL with more goals than Alex Ovechkin. By the end of the Washington Capitals’ 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on Sunday night at Verizon Center, there were none.

Ovechkin recorded his 16th and 17th goals to tie St. Louis captain Alexander Steen for the most in the NHL and fuel Washington’s three-goal first-period outburst against the Blues. The scoring frenzy allowed the Capitals to seize control of the contest early against a St. Louis squad playing its third game in four nights.

With the victory, the Capitals sit in first place in the Metropolitan Division, one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins, whom they will host Wednesday.

“We’re really happy about this one. We knew they were a great team and obviously they played last night and had a long flight,” said Nicklas Backstrom, who posted his third three-assist night of the season. “We were aware of that and we wanted to come out hard.”

The opening 20 minutes have often been a struggle for Washington, riddled with inconsistencies and a lack of offense. That was far from the case against St. Louis as the Capitals zipped crisp passes and flowed easily as five-man units.

Ovechkin recorded his first goal of the night on an intimidating blast from the right circle after a nifty tap pass by Backstrom sent him racing into the offensive zone. With the Blues giving him plenty of space, Ovechkin unleashed a shot that offered no quarter for Jaroslav Halak as it blazed under his right arm and into the net for a 1-0 lead just 7 minutes 17 seconds into the contest.