Nashville broke on top early when a feed from Tom Wilson to Alex Ovechkin in the Nashville zone was broken up, Mattias Ekholm collecting the loose puck and springing Viktor Arvidsson for a breakaway that beat goalie Pheonix Copley low on the glove side 3:45 into the contest.
An odd-man break gave the Preds a 2-0 lead mid-way through the period, Nick Bonino one-timing a Colton Sissons feed on a 2-on-1 break, a goal of uncertain nature given that the shot was buried in the padding at the back of the Capitals’ net and unseen by the referee until Copley dug it out.
Washington had a great chance late to cut the lead in half with goalie Jusse Saros out of the net, but Nashville backchecked well to deny Tom Wilson a chance to receive a pass and get a shot on an open net with less than five seconds left in the period. The Caps skated off down a pair to their hosts.
- Nashville held a 20-16 edge in shot attempts and a 9-8 advantage in shots on goal.
- Nicklas Backstrom had a decent first period with three of the Caps’ eight shots on goal and winning four of five faceoffs.
- Jonas Siegenthaler defended… two hits and two blocked shots in 5:38 of ice time.
- The Caps spread their misery around in one sense; ten different players were minus-1 for the period.
- This was only the 15th time this season that Nashville took a lead into the first intermission.
It took the Predators less than two minutes to extend their lead. After beating the Caps to loose pucks deep in the Capitals’ zone, the puck went out to P.K. Subban at the left point. His shot was redirected by Arvidsson down and between Copley’s pads just 81 seconds into the period.
Washington dug deep and pinned the Predators in their own zone, Tom Wilson eventually getting a chance from the low slot, but his backhand shot that slid through the defense and past Saros hit the far post. But with Alex Ovechkin poised to jump on a rebound just off that post, the puck caromed back across the crease instead of out to Ovechkin for what would have been a tap-in goal. The Caps did continue the pressure, earning a power play as a result when Subban was whistled for a tripping call.
The Caps were rewarded for their hard work when John Carlson’s slap-pass from the top of the zone was redirected by Backstrom behind Saros to cut the lead to 3-1.
The momentum the Caps took early in the period was snuffed out when, skating on a power play, they were loose with the puck at the offensive blue line and allowed a shorthanded breakaway to Arvidsson, who completed the hat trick, sliding the puck through Copley’s pad to make it 4-1, 7:52 into the period.
The Preds poured it on late in the period when Rocco Grimaldi skated into the Caps’ zone with Jonas Siegenthaler back. Grimaldi took advantage of Siegenthaler giving ground and while spinning clockwise, backhanded the puck past Copley’s right pad to make it 5-1 at the 14:57 mark of the period.
Nashville got another redirected shot for a goal with less than ten seconds in the period when Nick Bonino got the shaft of his stick on an Ekholm drive from the left point to make it 6-1.
- The power play goal was just the Caps’ second on the road since December 1st, and their first in more than a month, the other recorded in a 6-5 Gimmick win in Carolina on December 14th.
- Dmitrij Jaskin had a chance to cut the lead to 3-1 mid-way through the period but hit the post behind Saros. It was one of three posts the Caps hit in the period.
- The Predators out-attempted the Caps, 22-17, in the second period and out-shot them, 11-10.
- Through two periods, Backstrom had five of the Caps’ 18 shots on goal.
- Through two periods, Brett Connolly, Lars Eller, and Dmitrij Jaskin were the only Caps not toting a “minus” on their ledger.
With the competitive portion of the game over, Nashville managed to add to their lead eight minutes into the period when Calle Jarnkrok one-timed a feed from Kevin Fiala cleanly past Copley’s glove to make it a 7-1 game. As if to add insult to injury, the Caps then immediately went to a penalty kill when John Carlson, who was high-sticked under his helmet visor by Filip Forsberg, let the referees have it and was sent off for the night with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a game misconduct for good measure.
The Caps did get one back late when Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie broke out on a 2-on-1. Kuznetsov did a fine job of changing the puck position on his stick to allow him a passing angle through defenseman Yannick Weber, hitting Oshie for a lay-up over Saros’ right pad with 3:49 left in the contest.
- Nicklas Backstrom led the team with six shots on goal, his high for the season.
- With seven goals allowed, the Caps have now allowed the Predators 23 goals over the last four games these teams faced one another, and it is the fourth time in the last six meetings that the Caps allowed five or more goals to Nashville.
- This is the second time this season that the Caps played consecutive games against St. Louis and Nashville and allowed 11 games over the two contests. They lost to Nashville, 6-3, and St. Louis, 5-2, in Games 38 and 39. It is the third time this season that the Caps allowed 11 goals over two consecutive games (a 6-5 loss to Anaheim followed by a 5-3 loss to Vegas in Games 26 and 27).
- The Caps more than doubled the hits Nashville had, 27-12, but that’s largely a product of Nashville controlling play.
- The Predators finished with a 64-49 edge in shot attempts, a 29-28 lead in shots on goal.
- With an assist on the Backstrom goal, Alex Ovechkin extended his points streak to four games, his longest streak in a month.
- Jonas Siegenthaler had seven blocked shots, tying the season high for a Capital (Matt Niskanen had seven in a 4-2 win over Chicago on November 21st).
- Viktor Arvidsson had 11 shot attempts (six shots on goal) for Nashville.
- The seven goals allowed by Pheonix Copley is his season and career high and worst since allowing six goals in a 6-0 loss to New Jersey on October 11th, his first appearance of the season. In 16 appearances after that he allowed as many as four goals only twice.
- The loss gave the Caps their second three-game losing streak over their last nine games.
In the end…
…ugh. ‘Nuff said.