Washington Capitals (34-11-5) vs Nashville Predators (22-19-7)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Braden Holtby||19-9-4||3.05 / .899 / 0|
|Nashville Predators||Juuse Saros||6-8-4||3.13 / .895 / 1|
The Washington Capitals have returned home for their first game at Capital One Arena since before the All-Star Break, riding a four-game win streak, to take on the Nashville Predators. The last time these two teams played, back on October 10th, 2019, we saw a very high-scoring game end up in an eventual loss for Washington, 5-6 in regulation. The Capitals have actually lost seven consecutive games to the Predators, and have just two wins in their last 12 meetings (mcubed).
On Monday night, sans Alex Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals defeated the Montreal Canadiens, 4-2. An early goal by Jeff Petry gave Montreal a 1-0 lead just 115 seconds into the game. Tom Wilson found the back of the net on the Capitals 2nd power play of the evening to tie the game at one goal each. Just as the horn blew to signal the end of the first period, Phillip Danault was issued a minor penalty for high-sticking, so Washington began the second period on the power play. Although the Caps did not score on the man-advantage, a lucky bounce of the puck ended up behind Habs’ goaltender Carey Price three seconds later. In his first game since New Year’s Eve, Travis Boyd tallied his 3rd goal of the season, giving Washington their first lead of the night. Montreal received two power plays in the second, but were unable to convert on either opportunity. Just short of the 15-minute mark of the middle frame, Jakub Vrana potted his 23rd of the season, and therefore the Capitals would start the third with a two-goal lead. Much of the third period consisted of the Canadiens finding their game, and Washington playing too far on their heels. Veteran goaltender Braden Holtby was challenged with a number of difficult saves, and thankfully, he was up for that challenge. An awfully close call just five minutes into the third frame ended in an overwhelming sigh of relief for Caps fans as Holtby made the save of his season, keeping the score at 3-1 in favor of Washington. Dale Weise successfully cut into the Capitals lead with his first of the season just moments later. The third period would expire without any additional power plays for either team, and with Habs’ head-coach pulling Price for the extra skater, Nicklas Backstrom would ensure Washingtons’ 34th victory with an empty-net goal. Braden Holtby, after making 31 saves on 33 shots, marked his first regulation win in five starts. Holtby is expected to start between the pipes for Washington.
The Nashville Predators lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 5-2, also on Monday night. Four minutes and 13 seconds into the first period, William Nylander tallied his 23rd goal of the season, and his fourth in four straight games. Just 40 seconds later, Mikael Granlund tied the game with his 9th of the season. Zach Hyman improved Toronto’s lead by another goal not even three minutes later. Rasmus Sandin, who in nine games this season has four assists, scored his first goal at the 4:41 mark of the second period, giving the Leafs a 3-1 lead. With seven minutes left in the middle period, Jason Spezza potted his first goal in six games, helping Toronto to pull ahead yet again. The Predators’ penalty kill successfully kept the Leafs off the board on both man-advantages. Nashville’s penalty kill is among the worst in the league, coming in at 29th overall, and kills off just 73.6% of all penalties taken (TheScore). That percentage drops drastically when the Predators are traveling, to a league-worst 68.3% (ESPN). In 23 road games, the Predators have allowed 26 power play goals against. At the 12:52 mark of the third, Viktor Arvidsson tallied his 12th goal of the season, attempting to pull the Predators back into the game. Unfortunately, with his 35th goal, an empty-netter, Auston Matthews would seal the win for the Maple Leafs, and would hand the Predators their third loss in four games. Nashville out-shot the Leafs 35 to 31, but with four goals on 30 shots, Pekka Rinne marked his 11th regulation loss. Backup goaltender Juuse Saros is slated to start for the Predators.
The Nashville Predators are still without Ryan Ellis, who suffered an upper-body injury during the Winter Classic versus the Dallas Stars (DL, upper body). Nashville is also without Colton Sissons (DL, lower body). Alex Ovechkin will return to the lineup, and Travis Boyd will find himself once again as a healthy scratch.
Coverage of the game begins at 6:30pm with Caps Faceoff Live, followed by Caps Pregame Live at 7:00pm, all on NBCSN/NBCSWA, with puck drop shortly after 7:30pm.
ESPN. (2020). 2019-20 NHL Hockey Stats and League Leaders- Special Teams. Retrieved from http://proxy.espn.com/nhl/statistics/team?stat=special-teams&sort=shortHandedGoalsAgainst&split=33&order=false.
Mcubed. (2020). NHL : Series records : Washington Capitals against Nashville Predators. Retrieved from http://mcubed.net/nhl/wsh/nsh.shtml.
TheScore. (2020). Nashville Predators News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/19.