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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All’s Fehr in Love and Scoar: Caps beat Perds 5-2

Brouwer  - Patrick Smith

Photo: Patrick Smith

It’s been too long. The last Caps game– back when healthcare.gov wasn’t working and the Spaghetti Os social media guy still had a job– was a pretty tough loss to the Hurricanes. Four days later, the Capitals hosted Matt Hendricks and the Nashville Predators to a Saturday night thing, putting up a ton of goals in the first frame and fending off their foes for the next forty minutes. Here’s how it went down.

Troy Brouwer cracked an 11-game scoreless streak early in the first with one of the softest softies ever, a slow backhand that dribbled past Nashville goalie/The Doors organist Marek Mazanec. Alex Ovechkin was Alex Ovechkin on the power play, and then Karl Alzner threaded the needle from way-out to officially make it a scoar-moar-goals kind of night. Roman Josi put a nasty wristshot to Braden Holtby’s far side to get the Perds on the board, but that was quite a strong first frame for the Caps. 3-1.

The second period was scoreless, but it did find the Predators closing the gap in the possession game.

Martin Erat set up Nate Schmidt for his first NHL goal in the third, but Eric Nystrom scored on the very next shift because this is the Capitals and they do just do stuff like that sometimes. Mikhail Grabovski, who is awesome, helped Eric Fehr, who is awesome, get free wings for the fans. Bam. Win.

Caps beat Preds 5-2.

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Report: Martin Erat Wants Out Of Washington

Photo credit: Derek Leung/Getty Images

That didn’t take long: forward Martin Erat, acquired from Nashville at the 2013 trade deadline along with Michael Latta in exchange for top Capitals prospect Filip Forsberg, now says he wants to leave Washington.

Speaking with Czech news agency iDNES.cz and translated by our friend Lindsey Novak, Erat expresses dissatisfaction with the ice time he’s getting in Washington and seems eager to move on.

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matt-hendricks-nashville-predators

Gets ya right in teh feels.

All you Matt Hendricks superfans out there, I ask that you please turn away, X out your browser, and retreat to your doomsday bunkers because this is the extinction-level event you’ve been prepping for. Former Washington Capitals grinder Matt Hendricks did an interview with the Nashville Predators in his new mustard yellow jersey. All of a sudden, it’s real.

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forsberg

Filip Forsberg spoke to Swedish paper Expressen in the wake of his trade from the Capitals to the Nashville Predators. In an article by Gunnar Nordström and Adam Eriksson, Forsberg describes his reaction:

“It happened suddenly, I didn’t know anything about it until I read it. I spoke to my agent just now and he said it really went quickly, but that’s what happens in this world. All I can do is accept it.”

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Trade: Hal Gill to Nashville

Photo credit: Michael Miller

[Ed. note: In the run-up to the trade deadline, RMNB will be publishing trade stories– including non-Caps news.]

According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, Hal Gill has been traded from the Montreal Canadiens to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Blake Geoffrion, Robert Slaney, and a 2012 2nd round pick.

Hal Gill has a cap hit of $2,250,000 and will be expected to provide veteran defense for a Nashville team that may be in danger of losing either one or both of their star defensive pairing of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter over the next few months. Blake Geoffrion has a cap hit of $1,062,500 and has yet to score in 22 games with the Predators this season, though he did contribute 6 goals in 20 games last season and will likely be expected to chip in some offense on a Montreal squad that often struggles with this. Slaney is a 23-year-old left wing with no pro experience thus far.

Hal Gill isn’t especially known for his speed or mobility — look for terms like “parking meter” and “pylon” on his bingo card — but he’s an excellent penalty killer and a very good defensive mentor. Nashville’s scary defense just got a little bit scarier.

Caps Beat Preds 4-1 in Mike Knuble’s 1,000th Game

I score? I really score? (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)

Coming into Tuesday’s game against the Predators, the Caps had been inefficient offensively, managing to score only one goal in each of their last three games. Would being confronted with two of the best defensemen in the league — Shea Weber and Ryan Suter — and a team that has played in 10-straight one goal games (7-3-0) somehow help their cause? Also, would an emotional pre-game ceremony honoring one of their team leaders, give the Caps a lift?

You bet your ass it did.

After the Capitals started the game off with four dominant shifts in the Predators zone, Alex Ovechkin — beautifully set-up by Karl Alzner — scored on a breakaway at 7:47 of the first. Later in the period, Nicklas Backstrom wrapped home goal number two of the night, his twelfth of the year. After a scoreless second period, Sergei Kostitsyn ruined Neuvy’s shutout bid with a twisted wrister from just outside the slot. Then Alex Semin decided he felt like scoring. Troy Brouwer, too! Caps beat Preds 4-1.

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“Kanooblian” by Mark Burrier. See Rare Words for more of Mark’s art.

Mike Knuble will play his 1000th NHL game on Tuesday night. And I get to write the pregamer! Woohoo!

There’s a team. They’re from Nashville. That’s where Steve Earle got busted for dope the first 40 times, and it’s where my girlfriend Hayley Williams lives right now. The Predators are 17-11-4. Their new guitar pick logo is awesome. They beat the Caps 3-1 last month, and their home jerseys harshed my rods and cones. Faith Hill hates Carrie Underwood. The Preds are just barely inside the playoff picture right now. D-man Shea Weber is insanely good (24 points, plus-15) and will get even better. But enough about them, let’s talk Kanooble!

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Sad Like a Country Song, Preds beat Caps 3-1

 John Russell

(Photo credit: John Russell)

The Washington Capitals began their circuit of North America with a stop in Nashville with their Predators. With Mike Green still ailing and a shooting drought in their immediate past, the Caps had something to prove.

After more than 55 minutes of play, Troy Brouwer finally beat Pekka Rinne using a defender for a screen. Like 0.874325 seconds later, Shea Weber fed Martin Erat east-west to tie it back up. With 24 seconds left, Colin Wilson beat a stickless John Erskine and a sucked-out Vokoun to make it 2-1. Backstrom lost a faceoff to give Weber an empty netter 5 seconds later. Preds beat Caps 3-1.

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Photo credit: John Russell

Doug Johnson of Puck Buddys sells his sword to Russian Machine. @PuckBuddys wants your tweet.

The Pre Game: “And here’s my theory of punctuation. At the end of every sentence there should be a tiny clock that shows you how long it took you to write that sentence.” – Laurie Anderson.

Watching Capitals games is becoming an existential exercise, based on the obscene, neutered device we call the clock. As in: Caps score first by the clock: we lose. Caps trail in the second by the clock: we win. Watch the game, watch the clock; we score first, we lose last.

Call me crazy. Call me late for dinner, but consarnit, the Caps are just not behaving by the clock. Headline from Saturday: Caps Lose, Broadside of Barn Safe! What went wrong? Coach Juggles’ shoot-out changes? The Caps total lacking D?  #BadSasha? #EvilSasha? #HailSatanSasha?

Here’s the thing: Caps, every time you take a lead and blow it, you smoke a tiny bit of our time. Think about that: every game you go forward at the first, only to surrender… you surrender a few minutes of our lives.  The clock is ticking. What will you do with it?

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