Photo: AP/ Mark Humphrey
The Washington Capitals face the Nashville Predators on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena in one of two meetings this season. Washington currently sits second in the Metropolitan Division and sixth in the league with six points. Action from Smashville begins at 8 PM ET on NBC Sports Washington.
The Capitals were defeated by the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night at Capital One Arena in a 4-3 overtime loss. Riding a two-game overtime losing streak, the Capitals are looking for a big win against the Predators on Thursday as they start a quick two-game road trip. Washington fell to Nashville in both games of the series last season— a 6-3 home loss on December 31 and losing 7-2 on the road on January 15. The Capitals have a 13-13-2 record against the Predators. The Capitals went 24-15-2 in road games last season.
Leading the team with five points, defenseman and alternate captain John Carlson picked up a goal and an assist in Tuesday’s loss. Forward T.J. Oshie has two goals for the Capitals with Carlson also leading in assists (4) in four games played. Captain Alex Ovechkin has two points, which includes one goal.
Center Evgeny Kuznetsov is expected to return to the top-six forwards in Thursday night’s tilt. Kuznetsov was suspended for three games for inappropriate conduct but made his 2019-20 season debut on Tuesday against the Stars. He scored just over four minutes into the game. Lars Eller returns to the third line and will center forwards Carl Hagelin and Richard Panik.
Defenseman Michal Kempny participated in heavy contact drills during Wednesday’s practice and led the team’s post-practice stretch; however, he will not play against the Predators and will need additional practices before returning to the lineup. Defenseman Dmitry Orlov left the practice with a lower-body injury and Radko Gudas filled Orlov’s spot. The team is staying cautious with Orlov, but he is expected to play Thursday night.
Braden Holtby has started three of four games so far this season. The goaltender is 1-0-2 and holds a .882 save percentage. During Tuesday’s loss, Holtby made 22 saves and allowed four goals. His record against Nashville is 3-3-1, a save percentage of .871, and 3.91 goals-against average. The Capitals’ backup netminder, Ilya Samsonov, made his NHL debut on October 4 in a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. He made 25 saves, allowed one goal, and posted a .962 save percentage.
Washington’s power play has not been impressive thus far. Ranked twenty-second in the NHL, the Capitals have a 12.5% efficiency on the man advantage. The team has an 81.8% effective penalty kill when a man down, which is good enough for 14th place. Oshie and Gudas both have scored one goal on the power play. Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler has eight penalty minutes, six of which came during his last two games.
Finishing the Western Conference’s Central Division with 100 points last season, the Nashville Predators went 49-27-6 but lost in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs to the Dallas Stars in a 4-2 series. This season, the team is third in the Central Division and 13th in the league with four points. They defeated the San Jose Sharks 5-3 at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday and are now 2-1-0. Thursday night’s battle with the Capitals is their last home game before a three-game road trip. The Predators have a 25-14-2 record at home and a history of 15-9-4 against Washington.
Center Matt Duchene leads the team with six points, all of which are assists. Picking up a goal in each of his last three games, forward Filip Forsberg holds the most goals thus far for the Predators. Captain Roman Josi scored twice in Tuesday’s win and now has three points.
Nashville’s netminder, Pekka Rinne, holds a .932 save percentage and is 2-0-0, which includes a 5-2 victory over Minnesota Wild on Opening Night. In their clash with the Sharks, Rinne made 33 saves, allowed 2 goals, and finished with a save percentage of .943. His record against the Capitals is 5-1-0, a .910 save percentage, and 2.50 goals-against average. Juuse Saros has played one game, which was a 5-3 loss at home to the Detroit Red Wings. The Finnish backup goaltender made 23 saves, allowed 4 goals, and held a .852 save percentage.
The Predators have a 22.2% effective power play that places them 17th in the league. On the penalty kill, they are 18th with 75% efficiency. Josi and forward Viktor Arvidsson have recorded a power play goal each. Forward Austin Watson has seven penalty minutes; five came from a fighting major with Sharks defenseman Trevor Carrick in the first period during Tuesday night’s game.
Top 5 goals from the last 4 games:
5⃣ Vrana snipes in stride
4⃣ Kuzy scores in return to action
3⃣ Hathaway nets first as a Cap
2⃣ Oshie from his knees
1⃣ Ovi scores first of the season
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) October 9, 2019
- John Carlson has five points (1g, 4a) in the Capitals’ first four games, and two multi-point games, including Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Stars.
By Della Young