Nashville Predators 1, Washington Capitals 4: Too many posts, not enough goals

The Preds actually played pretty well tonight, but close doesn’t count in hockey.

The Nashville Predators looked to break out of a slump tonight against the Washington Capitals, themselves hoping to get back on track.

Although the Predators got off to a strong start, pressuring early and getting to the front of the net, the Caps drew first blood when Yakov Trenin, falling down, gave up a three-on-one and Joe Snively was able to capitalize. A few good chances—from Filip Forsberg and Trenin himself—didn’t pan out, and the Capitals went back on the attack, forcing Juuse Saros to make several good saves.

Play see-sawed back and forth for much of the period, with the Capitals getting the better of the chances on balance, before Alexandre Carrier lost his helmet (with considerable help from Connor Sheary) and Saros had to deal with another odd-man situation for the Capitals—this time, successfully. Penalty calls have been somewhat lacking this game, but at times like this it might have been good to get at least a whistle.

With about five minutes to go, Tanner Jeannot caught a Roman Josi slapshot in front of the Caps’ net and was very slow to get off the ice, but did return. The Preds did finally get their feet back under them after that. In the final seconds of the period, the Duchene line had some great chances, with Mikael Granlund getting the final honors, but Caps goalie Ilya Samsonov held firm and the Preds went to intermission still down 0-1.

The Preds came out fairly lackluster to start the second, although Matt Duchene did ring iron early. With about thirteen and a half minutes remaining in the period, Michael McCarron took the first penalty of the game, putting the Capitals on the power play, but some good work by the penalty killers and some key saves from Saros the Preds were able to kill it off.

Forsberg hit a crossbar a few minutes later, but the puck again stayed out. Just after that, the Preds went to the power play as both Snively and Dimitri Orlov took a whack at Duchene, with Snively the one called for it. That power play was called short less than a minute in, as Granlund threw himself out full-length on the ice trying to play the puck and Nick Jensen skated right over him, with Granlund assessed for a tripping penalty as a result.

Despite the interweaving penalty calls, the teams returned to five a side without further score. Forsberg hit another crossbar. A Luke Kunin ping with three minutes to go was called as a goal, but a quick review determined that the puck never crossed the line. The Preds had a good flurry before the period ended, but again no joy, as Samsonov continued to make great and timely saves.

The Preds started the third with another post, before finally managing to score shortly after when Samsonov lost his stick in the scramble and McCarron was able to score to tie the game at one. However, on the next shift, Nick Jensen collected a great pass from Garnet Hathaway and restored the Caps’ one-goal lead, and not long after that Trenin was called for kneeing and Alex Ovechkin did Alex Ovechkin things from the Alex Ovechkin spot.

Now trailing 1-3, the Preds failed to get any good chances (though they managed a little zone time) before Granlund was called for holding. They killed that penalty off but again didn’t manage to get much going. With under four minutes remaining, Jensen put the puck over the glass, gifting the Predators a late power play. Hynes pulled Saros, but even the 6v4 didn’t give the Preds the goals they needed.

With Saros still on the bench as the Preds continued to attack 6v5, Ovechkin scored his second of the night into the empty net. It wasn’t a bad effort from the Preds, and players like Forsberg have a lot to be proud of in their contributions, but the end result wasn’t what the team wanted.