By Amanda DiPaolo
The Nashville Predators lost their first game of the season, but it took overtime to do it as the Washington Capitals edged the Predators 3-2. Nashville saw a 2-0 lead vanish in the third period with Brooks Laich scoring the overtime winner on the power play.
Injuries again struck the Nashville bench. Marcel Goc left the game late in the second period bent over holding what appeared to be his wrist as he skated off the ice after being pushed into the boards from behind by Niklas Backstrom.
The Predators were again without starting goalie Pekka Rinne, who is expected to play on Tuesday against Calgary. Rookie Anders Lindback played another solid game for the Predators. Nashville also had two thirds of its starting lineup sit out. Marty Erat is battling back spasms and Matthew Lombardi has an undisclosed upper body injury.
The action in Nashville was fast and furious early on. Off the opening draw, center Cal O’Reilly was able to get behind Washington’s defense and got a decent shot on goal. Michal Neuvirth was in position to make the save. As the same line stayed on the ice, Steve Sullivan drew a penalty when Laich was called for tripping.
The first period was all about the power play with Nashville having 4 opportunities on the man advantage including 30 seconds of a 5 on 3, but the Predators were unable to convert with the extra man, allowing Washington to maintain being 100% on the penalty kill.
The Predators took a 1-0 lead in the game when J.P. Dumont sent a bullet high on the glove side of Neuvirth. Colin Wilson registered an assist, picking up his third point in four games.
At the end of the first, Nashville had outshot the Capitals 18-7. During the first three games of the season, however, Nashville had been outshot 41-28 in the middle frame. Saturday night, Nashville played a solid second period. Just 6 minutes into the middle frame, David Legwand and Jordin Tootoo had a 2-1 but were not able to convert. However, on the very next shift Legwand again got the puck to Tootoo and this time he would not be denied. It was Tootoo’s first goal of the season. Nashville had a 2-0 lead after two periods of play.
The second period was filled with end to end action. On one end Sergei Kostitsyn was sent down the ice, unable to make anything of it, Ovechkin found himself going down the other end. Again, nothing. Marcus Johansson was was able to walk right in behind Nashville’s defense and tried to send one high over Lindback. At 6’6, not much is getting top shelf over Lindback and Johansson’s effort was denied with a little more than 9 minutes left to play. With 6:24 left to play in the second period, Legwand made a great play getting the puck through the Capitals defense and up to Ward. Breaking in all alone Ward’s shot was gloved down by Neuvirth.
Late in the second period, less than 3 minutes left to play, Backstrom received a 2 minute boarding minor on Goc. Goc left the game with an undisclosed upper-body injury. More will be known on Monday.
Nashville’s head coach, Barry Trotz, said he wasn’t happy about the hit on Goc and that it obviously hurt the Predators going into the third period.
“Those are the type of hits that you want to take out of the National Hockey League,” Trotz said, “The biggest thing is that I didn’t think Backstrom was playing the puck. He basically hit a player probably 5 feet away from the boards. If you are a player and you get hit in the back there you are going head first into the boards that’s when people get really hurt.”
Trotz also pointed out that Backstrom assisted on two of Washington’s three goals, including the overtime winner. Had the Swede been given a 5 minute major and a game misconduct, he would not have been on the ice setting up those goals. The League is looking into the hit and will decide if further action is required.
While the first two periods were dominated by the Predators, the third period was all Washington. Less than 5 minutes in Alexander Semin scored on the power play with Cody Franson in the box for holding the stick. With lots of time left to play, the Capitals didn’t need long to find the equalizer. Tomas Fleischmann’s wrist shot found its way past Lindback at 12:14 of the third.
The overtime period lasted less than 2 minutes. Ryan Suter was called for tripping Ovechkin and Brooks Laich was able to tip in an Ovechkin bullet to win the game less than a minute into the power play.
The overtime victory was the third year in a row that Washington beat the Predators in overtime.
Nashville next sees action on Tuesday night when the Calgary Flames visit Bridgestone Arena. Game time is 7 pm CT.
Are you looking for tickets to an upcoming Predators home game? Follow this link for discounted tickets. Make an account and then use the word Preds as the code for the discount. Predators upcoming home games include tonight against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, Tuesday when the Calgary Flames are in town and next Thursday when Canada’s national treasure, Sidney Crosby, makes his one visit to Smashville this year.