The Nashville Predators prevented the Washington Capitals from going a perfect 6-0 in the preseason by shutting out the Capitals 3-0 Sunday afternoon. The Predators end the preseason with a 4-2 record.
Special teams was the story of the afternoon. The Capitals ranked second in the preseason for power play goals, behind only (and surprisingly) the Toronto Maple Leafs. Toronto played 9 preseason games, as opposed to Washington’s 5 games. For Nashville, the Predators haven’t found much success on the power play, not scoring a goal with the man advantage until their 4th game of the preseason. Nashville’s penalty kill has yet to be much better, ranking last so far this preseason.
Shots were low, leading to a scoreless first period. Washington had 8 shots on Pekka Rinne and the Predators only registered 5 shots on goal. But midway through the second period, Nashville took over control of the game and would not relinquish it, registering 28 shots to Washington’s 22 shots on goal. Michal Neuvirth and Danny Sabourin shared goaltending duties for Washington.
Keeping the Capitals off the board was no easy task. Sunday afternoon’s game marked the first time in the preseason that Washington didn’t score in every period played. The positive play didn’t end there. Nashville went 2-2 on the penalty kill. Late in the first period Shea Weber was sent to the box at 15:18 for slashing Alex Ovechkin in the hand. In the third, J.P. Dumont was sent to the box at 6:42 for tripping.
Nashville’s first power play came 4 minutes into the second period when DJ King got called for hooking. Nashville was unable to capitalize on the opportunity. But Nashville would score first on a Cal O’Reilly goal 11:58 into the middle frame. Patric Hornqvist and Steve Sullivan picked up the assists.
The goal by O’Reilly was the first time that Washington didn’t score the first goal of the game this preseason. The goal also marked the first goal Danny Sabourin allowed in 3 games this preseason.
In the third period, Nashville took a tripping call in the offensive zone. With J.P. Dumont in the box, Washington got a chance to tie the game. But it was Nashville who built on its lead. Joel Ward scored shorthanded at 7:42 of the third period. Seconds later Steve Sullivan gave the Predators another shorthanded opportunity, but Sullivan would be slashed and hooked and the Capitals would be called for both infractions. Brian Fahey was sent to the box and the Predators found themselves on a 4 minutes man advantage.
Nashville was unable to score with 4 consecutive minutes of power play time, which could prove to be problematic during the regular season. Nashville ended last year ranked 24th in the league on the power play. But 11 seconds after the 4 minute double minor expired, Joel Ward scored on a wrist shot for his second goal of the game. O’Reilly and Sullivan assisted.
The regular season starts on Thursday, October 7th. Nashville doesn’t play its first game until Saturday night at home against the Anaheim Ducks. Game time is 7pm. Tickets are still available.
Additional Game Notes:
Nashville’s lines on Sunday afternoon were probably what the opening roster will look like Saturday night. If this is the case, Sergei Kostitsyn would have failed to crack the roster for Nashville’s first game of the season. Kostitsyn played very well during the preseason, so his absence from the lineup would be unfortunate.
But fans should remember that Kostitsyn took a puck off the skate at practice on Friday and may be injured or perhaps didn’t play for precautionary purposes. If Kostitsyn is a healthy scratch come next Saturday what will be most important is how Kostitsyn reacts. Will Kostitsyn work hard and try to earn a chance to play or will he return to behavior that got his bags packed in Montreal?
Starting lines for Nashville were as follows:
Starting lines for Washington were as follows:
Nicklas Backstrom was not in the lineup for Washington. Jason Chimera left the game in the second period after the puck hit him in the face. He got a couple stitches and did return in the third period.
Alex Ovechkin ended the preseason without scoring a goal. He did have five assists.