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Nashville Predators 4, Washington Capitals 3: Smith, Saros Secure Central Division Title for Nashville

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Two goals from Craig Smith and one each from Viktor Arvidsson and Roman Josi help secure the Central Division and Western Conference regular-season titles for Nashville.

A nationally broadcast game was on the Preds’ plate tonight as they tried to digest a past sour ending (you know the one).

Nashville went on the power play early in the first on a slash by Nicklas Backstrom. The indomitable Craig Smith poked home a loose puck in front of Capitals goaltender Philip Grubauer for the Predators’ first goal of the evening.

It’s like the Predators couldn’t help themselves, so they found themselves on the penalty kill about 2 minutes later. Some good play by the penalty killers and Juuse Saros killed the penalty. For the remainder of the period, Nashville played a tight defensive game. They had several offensive zone shifts that were promising, and Saros held down the crease per usual.

About four minutes into the second period, Ryan Johansen was whistled for tripping and Washington went on their second power play of the evening. A wrister from Ovechkin himself beat Saros for Washington’s equalizer. Shortly thereafter, Subban would go to the box for slashing. The power play had barely started before Evgeny Kuznetzov tapped in a backdoor pass behind Saros.

The Predators continued to look a little flat in the second. Finally, some sustained possession in Washington’s zone allowed Smith to tap in his second goal of the evening. Good thing too...it had been nearly ten minutes since the Predators took a shot on goal in the second. Washington was stepping all over them.

The third period didn’t start off in the best way for Nashville. Kuznetzov netted his second of the night on an upstairs backhander and Washington once again regained the lead. Kyle Turris was sent to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct after a huge hit on Kevin Fiala (Fiala is fine) and the Capitals had another two minutes of a man advantage. Some intense cycling in front of Saros didn’t result in a goal, but the Predators once again found themselves struggling to find momentum.

The Predators got their second power play on a trip by Matt Niskanen. Grubauer made some ridiculous saves on chances from Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg. The second power play unit had a little more success, and a gorgeous shot-pass from Roman Josi found the back of the net.

With 5:27 remaining in the third, an incredible play by Forsberg and Johansen saw a puck leak across the goal line for Nashville’s 4th goal of the contest. Capitals coach Barry Trotz pulled Grubauer with a little over two minutes remaining.

With tonight’s win, the Nashville Predators are the Central Division and Western Conference regular-season champions.

Random Observations

  • Congrats on your 1,000th game, Ovi. Here’s to many more.
  • Ryan Ellis broke people with his snapshot. Hopefully those Caps players are ok.
  • Victorious Viktor Arvidsson helping Craig Smith on a goal!
  • That’s a career high in goals for Smith.
  • I feel that Roman Josi is too pretty to sit in the box, but that’s just me.
  • Saros came 800 feet outside his net for that puck. Small heart attack.
  • Comment here about penalties. (eye roll)
  • Washington is really picking it up in the second.
  • Tom Wilson bulldozes Saros but P.K. Subban goes to the box?
  • Saros is the only Predator keeping this a one goal game. The rest of the Predators are somewhere in la-la land.
  • Just taaaaaaaaap it in.
  • I wonder what the coaching staff said during that TV timeout...
  • Kuznetzov again.
  • Oh look, another penalty.
  • The most beautiful captain Roman Josi ties the game!
  • Grubauer is making some “save of the year” saves tonight.
  • A leaky puck!!!! One that doesn’t get called back for interference!!!!!! Joey and Fil! (high pitched voice)
  • Man, Forsberg’s move into the Caps zone was something magical.
  • Grubauer is on the bench and my heart rate is 190.
  • Yes, please add .5 seconds back to the clock for a puck drop.
  • The Predators are the Central Division and Western Conference regular-season champions!

Super Duper Stars of the Evening

  1. Juuse Saros: We are running out of accolades for young Saros. He made some incredible saves on Washington’s stars and held his crease during the final two minutes of tonight’s game.
  2. Craig Smith: His 24th and 25th goals of the season are a career-high for Smith. He was annoyingly in front of the net all night, giving the Predators hope in a lackluster second period.
  3. Viktor Arvidsson: He combined with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg for the go-ahead goal in tonight’s game. The goal was announced in-game as Arvidsson’s, but the box score gives the goal to Johansen. No matter...the JoFA grind don’t stop!

Tweets of the Night

Game Video