Jake Allen was pulled for the fourth time in his last six starts on Thursday night as the Blues lost 7-3 to the Capitals at Scottrade Center. (St. Louis Blues)

By Rob Rains

The Blues thought they had seen what they needed to see from Jake Allen in practice the last week to put him back in goal to start Thursday night’s game against the Washington Capitals at Scottrade Center.

So much for that idea.

Allen’s struggles continued, and in fact might have gotten even worse, as the Capitals routed the Blues 7-3. They had a 7-1 lead before Alexander Steen scored two late goals.

Four of the goals came against Allen, who was pulled from the game for the fourth time in his last six starts. He allowed the four goals on just 10 shots on goal, leaving midway through the second period.

He also had come out of the game for 2:22 after allowing two goals on Washington’s first three shots on goal early in the first period.

“I don’t know how far it sets him back,” said coach Ken Hitchcock. “Everything we needed to see we saw at practice. There’s a lot going on right now. He’s kind of locked up mentally and he’s going to have to fight through this. We know we are going to need way better just to be competitive. Beating it up any more is not going to do us any good.”

Allen was not made available to the media after the game.

Allen, who was replaced by Carter Hutton in the last three games, has allowed 10 goals on just 36 shots on goal in his last three games and has given up at least three goals in each of his last four games.

The Blues have allowed 18 goals in their last three home games and have lost five of their last six games at Scottrade Center.

“This is a team, there’s no individuals,” said defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. “It’s got to come from in this locker room. It’s a collective effort. Right now, it needs to be better.”

Hitchcock admitted he doesn’t know what the next step for Allen will be. The Blues open a three-game trip on Saturday in Winnipeg.

“We’ve just got to get him unlocked,” Hitchcock said. “We can help get him unlocked, that’s part of coaching. Nobody on this team, nobody in this city anticipated this, but we’ve got it. There’s no help wagon coming. We’re going to have to figure it out, he’s going to have to figure it out. It’s going to make him stronger.

“We have to figure out how to help him, but right now he’s locked up.”

The Blues gave up the first goal of the game for the eighth consecutive home game, and the problems didn’t stop there. Seven different Capitals scored, including former Blue T.J. Oshie, who scored his first career goal against his old team.

Washington’s leading scorer, Alex Ovechkin, did not score a goal but did record two assists.

The game was the first for the Capitals since they also scored seven goals and lost ,8-7, in overtime in Pittsburgh Monday night. The Capitals have scored five or more goals in five consecutive games for the first time since 2010 and in eight of their last 11 games.

Four of the goals came in a 10-minute span in the second period, two against Allen and two against Hutton, after the Blues had pulled within 2-1 on Jaden Schwart’s goal 19 seconds into the second period. It was the first goal for Schwartz in 12 games.

Oshie’s goal was the first of the period, and the fourth goal by Brett Connolly at 7:33 knocked Allen out of the game. The Capitals scored again just 11 seconds later, on the first shot against Hutton, to make it a 5-1 game and a power-play goal by Justin Williams increased the lead to 6-1 before the end of the second period.

“There was a five to 10 minute period where we really turned it on,” said Oshie, whose first career goal against his former team ignited the flurry. “We’re really finding the net right now. All four lines are rolling.”