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Photo: John Russell

Marcus Johansson returned to the Capitals lineup on Tuesday after missing four games with an upper-body injury. He did pretty okay. Johansson recorded three points as the Capitals beat the Predators 5-3. Johansson had a goal and two assists, with Jason Chimera, Tom Wilson, Justin Williams and Alex Ovechkin also finding the net. Evgeny Kuznetsov recorded his 100th career NHL point with his assist on Justin Williams’ third period goal.

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The Curse of GMGM: Caps beat Preds 5-3

too-many-swedes

Two Swedes, one box

George McPhee traded prospect Filip Forsberg away sometime in the late 80s in exchange for Michael Latta, who is a nifty fourth liner, and a skunked case of Labatt Blue. We drank the beer, and then Forsberg scored twice on the Caps in Nashville on Tuesday. Don’t care. The Caps are still the best.

Tom Wilson, of all people, was involved in the Caps’ first two goals. In the first he assisted Jason Chimera, and in the second he swatted a saucer pass from Marcus Johansson. Filip Forsberg, dammit, scored on a power play in the second period.

In the third, Justin Williams put the Perds in a two-goal hole with an impressive scramble in the Nashville crease. Marcus Johansson welcomed himself back with a goal of his own, but the Preds struck back with goals by Roman Josi and Filip Forsberg (oh come the frick on) in quick succession. Alex Ovechkin got the empty netter.

Caps beat Preds 5-3! Four wins in a row!

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Caps at Preds Pregame: Hit the High Notes

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Photo: Amanda Bowen

We last saw the Caps in action on Super Bowl Sunday, when they added two points at the Flyers’ expense. While the Flyers aren’t exactly stiff competition, it always feels really, really good to beat them. Also, props to Matt Niskanen for scoring an absolute dazzler of a goal.

Now, the Caps are gunning for four straight with a win against the Preds, who are sixth in the Western Conference and fourth in the Central Division. The two teams have yet to square off this season, but the Caps have dropped their last three games played in Smashville.

Take note: the Preds are due for a PDO rebound. Their goaltending is middle-of-the-pack, and they’re capitalizing on just 6.7 percent of their shots at 5v5. Comparatively, the Caps are shooting 8.9 percent. As for goaltending, the mere mention of Braden Holtby’s name should inspire you to eat, drink, and be merry.

The game is at 8, and it’s on CSN.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 38-9-4 52.1% 102.0 24.2% 84.1%
Nashville Predators 25-20-8 53.8% 98.7 19.5% 78.7%

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LaneLambert

Photo credit: Alex Brandon

The day before training camp opened, Andi Lambert, the wife of Washington assistant coach Lane Lambert, died at the age of 45. She had spent the last 17 years battling a rare form of breast cancer. On Saturday, the entire Capitals team, along with members of the Nashville Predators, who Lambert previously coached for alongside Barry Trotz, went up to Ohio attend the funeral outside of Cleveland.

“I know it meant a lot for him for us to be there and support him and to remember Andi the way we all know her and love her,” Trotz said Sunday. “It just tells you the class of the people in this business.”

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Predators beat Caps 4-3: It’s McPhee’s McPhault

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Mike Green scored with one of your sticks. 

If you turned off Saturday’s Capitals-Predators game after twenty minutes, I’m worried for you. Yes, it was ugly at that point, but the Caps team of the game’s latter two-thirds wasn’t so bad. If you tuned out, you’d have missed Troy Brouwer’s hero pose and Mike Green’s Ovi spot routine. It was still a brutal loss, but it wasn’t such a bad game after all.

The Caps actually looked pretty good for ten minutes, but after failing to convert a 4v3, the Predators took over. First it was Mattias Ekholm, whose pretty backhand goal came right after the Caps power play expired. Then Mike Fisher took the wheel after Karl Alzner lost his stick and a battle in the crease to Filip Forsberg. Speaking of that dude, Forsberg broke our hearts and ended Holtby’s afternoon with a solo scoar.

That all happened in the first damn period.

The second found Troy Brouwer scoring twice, his 19th and 20th of the season, to put the Caps within striking distance. Things were looking up, but then Mike Ribeiro, who is probably a garbage human being, gave the Preds their fourth goal.

Mike Green put the Caps back within one just 20 seconds into the third, scoring on a Greenie shot from the Ovi spot with his Stealth. The Capitals ratcheted up the pressure late, but Pekka Rinne held onto the lead.

Preds beat Caps 4-3.

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Caps vs Preds Pregame: Win the Breakup

Photo: Chris Gordon

Now begins a tough weekend for the Washington Capitals. There’s the two early games against two very high-achieving teams, the Nashville Predators today and the New York Rangers tomorrow. There’s also the untidy narratives surrounding today’s game, specifically Barry Trotz playing his old team, who got better when he left, and the “return” of Filip Forsberg to Verizon Center, where he never really played as a Capital, but you know what I mean.

Puck drop at 12:30 PM on CSN. Pants optional.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 40-24-10 52.0% 100.2 24.8% 81.2%
Nashville Predators 46-21-8 53.1% 101.5 16.3% 81.4%

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Ovisplosion Not Enough: Preds beat Caps 4-3

Frederick Breedon

Photo: Frederick Breedon

The Caps had a spirited effort against the Nashville Predators, erasing a two-goal hole and gaining the lead, but James Neal– that jerk– got the best of the Caps twice, earning a W for the home team and ending Washington’s win streak at three.

The game was back-and-forth until Seth Jones’s shot after an offensive-zone faceoff win for the Predators beat Holtby’s glove side. James Neal found a good spot and got a better bounce to put the Preds up two goals in the second period, but hold up–

Ovi comin’.

Alex Ovechkin scored on monster shot from, like, no angle during 5v5 and then doubled it up with a power-play shot from the Ovi spot two and a half minutes later. That guy alone changed the game before you had time to go potty.

Marcus Johansson notched a PPG in the third before Mattias Ekholm tied it up on the power play late in the third. Then, with one hundred seconds late, Matt Niskanen choked the puck up to James Neal, who scored an unassisted layup.

Preds beat Caps 4-3. Stunned.

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Caps at Predators Pregame: Trotz’s Homecoming

Remember that time you showed up at the party and your ex was there? You’ve both moved on, and you’re both doing pretty darn well, but now the rest of the night is about posturing to see who truly won the breakup?

The home stand is over. Now the Caps have to prove they can win on the road, and they’ve gotta do it against the hottest team in the league. The Nashville Predators are also the Caps head coach’s former team and the home of a prospect who was frittered away two years ago and has since rose to stardom.

Barry Trotz and the Caps vs Filip Forsberg and the Predators. Dramaaaaaaa.

8 PM on CSN Plus.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 24-11-8 52.0% 100.8 23.6% 79.4%
Nashville Predators 29-9-4 53.2% 103.0 15.2% 81.8%

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trotz

The Washington Capitals have gone to major lengths to promote Barry Trotz since hiring him this summer. And while Trotz is certainly an improvement over former coach Adam Oates, the Caps still find themselves as a middling team (after a scintillating October), with fans finding little to be excited about for the future.

Check out the conclusion of Peter’s recap last night.

Sigh. Am I all alone in thinking that Caps fans are kind of at a low right now? The team is still way better than the Oates!Caps, but this ain’t exactly working either. All the great stuff the Caps were doing in October is gone now, and all the inefficiencies in the lineup are costing goals on a nightly basis.

We’re one month out from the Winter Classic, but the community seems melancholic. I don’t blame ‘em; at some point wins are needed to justify enthusiasm. The Capitals have let you down.

Meanwhile, Trotz’s former team, the Nashville Predators are undergoing a renaissance without their former bench boss. The irony is miserable.

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John Russell

Photo: John Russell

The weekend hasn’t been kind to the Washington Capitals. Aside from the Leafs, the Caps’ competition in the wild card race all gained ground while the Caps floundered against the Bruins. Sunday’s game against the Nashville Predators was a crucial opportunity to stay on pace. And while Nashville had a headlock on Washington during even strength, the Caps managed to summon up some special teams magic to keep the game interesting. Or excruciating, depending on your attitude.

The Capitals got on the board first with a beautiful five-on-five unicorn: Nick Backstrom stole the puck, served it to Mike Green, who found Troy Brouwer alone at the back door. Nashville stuck back 100 seconds later with Patric Hornqvist’s goal following a big rebound off Halak’s chest. Hornqvist wasn’t done, scoring a semi-breakaway late in the first as the Caps momentarily forgot what they’re supposed to do at their own blue line (hint: defense).

The second period was all Nashville, but Halak was halaking like there was no tomorrow. The Caps earned back-to-back power plays and converted the second of them, a frantic backhand by Brouwer in the slot. Shea Weber restored Nashville’s lead nine minutes into the third period with a monster slapshot. Nick Backstrom tied it a few minutes later, converting a power play with a slapshot as the bowels of Caps nation collectively liquefied.

Overtime gave us no decision, so here we go with the…

Shootout bullets!

  • Jarnkrok was a sidewinder, but Halak smashed him with a shovel.
  • Kuznetsov missed wide again. He’s not gonna like that.
  • Craig Smith scored on an early release.
  • Grabo got blocked.
  • Josi denied low.
  • Nick Backstrom, who is not Calle Johansson, blocked.

Perds beat Caps 4-3 (Shootout).

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