Game Preview: Predators at Capitals

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The Capitals host the Nashville Predators on Friday night at Verizon Center, fresh off their thrilling Tuesday night win over the Hurricanes that punched their ticket to the playoffs.  It is the second and final meeting between Washington and Nashville.

Series Flashback:
The Capitals defeated the Predators on Feb. 9 at Bridgestone Arena 5-3.

Scouting Report on the Predators:
Nashville carries a 35-22-13 record with 83 points.  They are in first place in the Western Conference Wildcard, seven points ahead of the Avalanche.  Thursday night the Predators host the Islanders.

The Preds are ranked 11th in goals for (192) and goals against (179).  They are also ranked 11th on the power play, converting with the man advantage 19.03%.  In between the pipes in this game will likely be Pekka Rinne.  Rinne carries a 28-19-10 record with a 2.33 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.  Left-winger Filip Forsberg leads Nashville in goals with 28.  He also has 24 assists and 52 points.  Over on the right wing is James Neal with 26 goals, 18 assists and 44 points.  Over on the blue line is Shea Webber and Roman Josi.  Weber leads the Preds in hits with 145 while Josi leads in blocks with 169.

Scouting Report on the Capitals:
The Capitals are 50-14-5 with 105 points and became the first team this season to clinch a playoff berth after their exciting win Tuesday over the Hurricanes.  The contest on Tuesday saw the Caps play a full 60-minute hockey game.  After a productive first period, they got on the board 90 seconds into the second stanza with a goal by Justin Williams.  The Hurricanes tied it later on in the period and the game eventually went into overtime.  In the extra frame, Ovechkin scored to send the fans home happy.  Ovi was in front of the net and Evgeny Kuznetsov found him from behind.  The Russian duo connecting on the scoring play, in addition to Dmitry Orlov on the ice, was fitting for Russian Heritage Night.

The Capitals rank second in goals for (221) and goals against (161).  After clinching a playoff spot the Caps next task is to lock up the Metropolitan Division.  With 105 points, they are 18 points ahead of the second place Rangers.  Alex Ovechkin leads the Caps in goals with 42.  Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie are second in that category with 21 goals apiece.  Center Evgeny Kuznetsov leads Washington in assists with 50, Nicklas Backstrom is right behind him at 45.  Goaltender Braden Holtby stopped 25 of 26 shots on Tuesday night to become the franchise leader in wins with 42.  It broke the previous mark of 41 wins that was set by Holtby himself last season and Olie Kolzig in the 1999-2000 season.  Holtby leads the NHL in wins.  The Capitals are coming off of a lot of momentum after playing one of their best games in the last couple months and look to win another game on home ice before a Sunday night showdown in Pittsburgh.

Players To Watch:
Predators: Filip Forsberg
Forsberg was selected by Washington in the 2012 NHL Draft but was traded at the deadline in 2013, a move that didn’t please Caps fans.  He was traded for Martin Erat and Michael Latta.

Capitals: Alex Ovechkin
Alex Ovechkin leads the Caps with 42 goals this season.  He notched the game-winner in overtime on Tuesday night versus the ‘Canes.  It was Ovi’s first goal since March 2, ending a five-game drought.

NHL Standings:

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Network Information:
You can catch the game on CSN.  Puck drop is at 7.

By Michael Marzzacco

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About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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