Nashville Predators: Final road game of season presents test in Capitals

(Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The season’s end is in sight and the Nashville Predators look to wrap up their playoff seeding. First, they must face the Washington Capitals on the road.

Eighty games are complete and the Nashville Predators sit atop of the NHL standings. With a record of 51-18-11, the Predators are experiencing the best regular season in their twenty-year history. All they need is two points to close out the Central Division and the Western Conference, gaining home-ice advantage in the playoffs. Both the Predators and the Winnipeg Jets have two games remaining. It only takes one Jets’ loss…

…or one Predators win, which we prefer.

Four points are what is needed for Nashville to make more history: winning their first President’s Trophy. The Boston Bruins are the closest competitor, and they have three games left to play. Nashville’s focus must be on what they can control. It starts tonight and the target is beating the Washington Capitals.

What to watch

After what could be the most egregious call in the NHL this season, the Predators must move on. In the loss to the Florida Panthers, Nashville generated a high-volume of shots but could not break Roberto Luongo. For most of the game, they appeared to just be skating, not showing much energy or effort. Of course, knowing the playoffs are around the corner, staying healthy is paramount.

Don’t expect the same showing tonight from the Predators. The Capitals look to be a true contender for the Stanley Cup.  Washington is 12-4-0 since March 1, winning the Metropolitan Division. However, they have not made to the Conference Finals since 1997-1998. Alex Ovechkin leads the NHL with 46 goals and will play tonight. Washington has nothing to lose or gain and keeping their star forward healthy for the playoffs is ideal. But, facing a potential Cup Finalist team means all hands on deck.

Braden Holtby is seeing competition from Philipp Grubauer in-goal. With some recent struggles, Holtby’s save percentage has dropped to .908 and he is allowing three goals per game. Grubauer has won seven of his last eight games, receiving more starts than Holtby.

As for the Predators, the return of their regular lineup is in order. With Viktor Arvidsson returning to the lineup on Tuesday, coach Peter Laviolette shuffled the lineup a bit. However, the playoffs are right around the corner and regaining chemistry is key.

Projected Lineup

Juuse Saros will get the start tonight, mostly because the final game of the year is on Saturday at Bridgestone. After his Vezina-worthy performance, Pekka Rinne has earned the final home game start. Saros is coming off a 4-1 win in Tampa Bay. Eeli Tolvanen will get the night off now that the roster is relatively healthy. Miikka Salomaki will fill out the fourth line with Mike Fisher and Austin Watson.


Filip Forsberg – Ryan Johansen – Viktor Arvidsson

Kevin Fiala – Kyle Turris – Craig Smith

Colton Sissons – Nick Bonino – Ryan Hartman

Miikka Salomaki – Mike Fisher – Austin Watson


Roman Josi – Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm – P.K. Subban

Alexei Emelin – Anthony Bitetto / Matt Irwin


Juuse Saros

Pekka Rinne

Next: Why Nashville wants the Blues

Where to watch

Tonight’s game from Washington begins at 6:00 p.m. Central time, and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Tennessee. Predators’ Pre-game airs at 5:30 p.m. You can stream the game on the Fox Sports Go app, or listen to the radio call on 102.5 The Game.