After the 1st period, the Nashville Predators had plenty of reasons to throw in the towel in Washington; down 2-0 on scores by Alex Ovechkin, and having blown two breakaway opportunities, it seemed the team was well on its way to another lopsided loss.
But in the characteristic manner of Preds teams, they rallied back, tying the game late in the 2nd period and setting up a tight finish, the kind we hadn't seen in recent days. While they eventually lost the game in the shootout, the Preds earned not just a moral victory but a crucial point in the standings by pushing the contest into overtime.
UPDATE: After the jump, the video highlights...
Alex Ovechkin came into this one ready to perform; he bulldozed Kevin Klein on an early shift, got wide open to blast a one-timer home on the power play to open the scoring, then corralled a bouncing puck near the Nashville blueline to beat Teemu Laakso and drive the net for a second score, giving Washington a 2-0 lead to end the 1st.
Initially in the 2nd period, things didn't improve; the Caps got the first 9 shots of the period, but Dan Ellis held on strong in the crease before the Preds finally broke through on the scoreboard. Patric Hornqvist left a drop pass that Shea Weber stepped into, blasting a slapper through Semyon Varlamov for his first goal of the season.
Whlie it was great to see one of the Preds' big guns get his first goal of the season, it was even better to see another less than two minutes later; J.P. Dumont threw a puck towards the net from along the left boards, and with a slight deflection off a Washington skate it slipped through Varlamov for the tying score. Just like that, Nashville was back in a game that many Caps fans assumed was all but over.
While neither team scored in the 3rd, there were good chances either way; Ellis made several good saves (including an excellent job coming back to his post as a Cap tried a wrap-around), and Nashville's top line put good pressure on in the final minute of play.
In the overtime, neither team registered a shot on goal. In the shootout, Ovechkin scored the only goal, which in addition to his two goals in regulation play prompted many Washington fans to throw their hats on the ice. Notably, even the fans over at Japers' Rink were embarrassed by the faux pas (shootout goals don't count towards individual stats).
For Nashville, the shooters were Steve Sullivan (wrist shot high glove side, saved by Varlamov), David Legwand (backhand move went wide) and Martin Erat (deke to forehand, stuffed). All in all, earning an OTL point in the standings is a positive result for a team in the middle of a 4-game losing streak notable for poor play in just about every part of the game.
One interesting new line used in this game was Ward - Legwand - Smithson, a tight-checking bunch with the ability to win battles along the boards and push the play up-ice given the opportunity. Teemu Laakso only saw 1 shift in the 2nd period and none thereafter, but we don't have word as to whether that wwas a benching or due to injury. Colin Wilson also only played two shifts in the 3rd.
Cody Franson played 12:54 in his first NHL game, including 3:01 on the power play, where he looked particularly effective and recorded his only shot on goal.