The Washington Capitals fell to the Nashville Predators 4-3 Thursday night at Capital One Arena. The Predators’ Craig Smith would score the lone goal of the opening frame on a Nashville power play, but the Capitals would respond with two power play goals in the middle frame to take a 2-1 lead. The PRedators would answer when Craig Smith registered his second tally of the game to make it 2-2 at the second intermission. Evgeny Kuznetsov notched his second goal of the game early in the third period, but the Predators would respond with another power play goal to tie it 3-3 midway through the final frame. Nashville would add a late goal from Ryan Johansen for the 4-3 final. The Capitals conclude their regular season schedule on Saturday when they host the New Jersey Devils. Puck drop is 7:00 p.m.
Philipp Grubauer (15-9-3, 2.29 GAA, .925 sv%) got the start between the pipes for the Capitals. Juuse Sarros (10-5-7, 2.41 GAA, .926 sv%) got the start in goal for the Predators. The Capitals starting forward lines and defensive pairs:
Scratches: Jakub Vrana, Jerabek, Shane Gersich, Madison Bowey & Jay Beagle (injury).
The Predators would light the lamp with a power play goal by Craig Smith at 4:17 of the opening frame.
That would be all of the scoring for the first 20 minutes. The Predators outshot the Caps 8-6 for the first period. The Predators were 1 for 1 and the Caps 0 for 1 on the man advantage for the opening frame.
The Capitals would tie the game with a power play goal from Alex Ovechkin at 4:29 of the middle frame. This was Ovechkin’s 47th goal of the season. Evgeny Kuznetsov and John Carlson were credited with the helpers.
The Capitals would take the lead on a deflected power play goal by Evgeny Kuznetsov at 6:47 of the middle frame. Kuznetsov was attempting a crossing pass to Alex Ovechkin, but a Nashville defender deflected the pass attempt into the Predators goal.
The Predators would tie things up at 14:03 with Craig Smith’s second goal of the game.
The period would end with the game tied 2-2. The Capitals outshot the Predators 17-7 for the middle frame. The Caps led 23-15 after 40 minutes of play.
Alex Chiasson was banged-up in the middle frame and would not return to the game. The Capitals did not release a location of injury. It was later reported that Chiasson got sick on the bench. No injury.
The Capitals would grab an early lead in the final frame with a beautiful backhander by Evgeny Kuznetsov at 1:07 of the third period.
The Preds would tie the game with a power play goal by Roman Josi at 8:19 of the final frame, making it 3-3.
The Predators would grab a late lead with a goal from Ryan Johansen at 14:33 of the final frame, and that would be the final.
The Predators outshot the Capitals 14-9 for the final 20 minutes.
- Evgeny Kuznetsov scored two goals and an assist.
- Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie both recorded an assist on Kuznetsov’s goal. Backstrom has 12 points (1g, 11a) in his last seven games and Oshie has a point in six straight games (2g, 4a).
- John Carlson recorded an assist on Ovechkin’s goal, his 67th point (15g, 56a) of the season, which leads all NHL defensemen. Carlson led the team with eight shots.
- Matt Niskanen played in his 800th career game. Niskanen is one point shy of 30 (7g, 22a), despite missing 14 games due to injury. That would mark the fifth-consecutive season Niskanen would reach the 30 point mark.
- T.J. Oshie recorded an assist on Kuznetsov’s goal. Oshie has a point in six straight games (2g, 4a).
- For the first time in their history, the Predators are Central Division and Western Conference regular-season champions.
- Tonight’s attendance was 18,506, the Capitals 403rd consecutive sellout at Capital One Arena.
- NHL box score is here.
By Jon Sorensen
SCENES FROM THE DISTRICT