Predators-Capitals Preview

While the Washington Capitals are in a bit of a rough patch, a

matchup against the last-place Nashville Predators could help them

bounce back.

Washington tries to continue its dominance of the Predators, who

hope to avoid a season-worst fifth consecutive loss Saturday


The Capitals (14-12-2) followed a season-worst four straight

defeats with back-to-back wins, but they saw their woes resume

Tuesday in a 4-1 loss to Carolina. Braden Holtby allowed the game’s

first four goals on 23 shots through two periods before getting

pulled in favor of Philipp Grubauer.

“I think every team goes through their highs and lows,” said

defenseman Mike Green, who provided all the offense with his first

goal. “We have been very successful at going through streaks in the

past, and that’s maybe why it seems like we are so up and


The Capitals went 1 for 5 on the power play, wasting a couple of

great opportunities. After going 20 for 71 (28.2 percent) on the

man advantage through its first 17 contests, Washington has gone 5

for 37 (13.5 percent) during an 11-game stretch.

“I don’t think it’s movement, I think it’s reads,” coach Adam

Oates said. “I don’t think we’re putting the puck in the right

spot. … We’re not used to being stuck.”

The Capitals have been outscored 19-9 during a 1-4-0 stretch at


“I think we just have to be mentally calm. Nobody knows exactly

what we have to do. Sometimes we just make bad decisions with the

puck,” said Alex Ovechkin, who leads the NHL with 21 goals. “We

just have to play and not think about anything. Of course we want

to win, of course we want to get results, but we have to be fresh

in our minds and do the simple things.”

The Predators (13-13-3) could also benefit from getting back to

the basics. Sitting at the bottom of the Central Division,

Nashville has been outscored 13-5 during an 0-3-1 skid.

“Obviously, a tough stretch here and not playing the way we

should be,” said Shea Weber, who has been out since taking a puck

to the face last Thursday.

The Predators, though, are hoping to have their captain

available against Washington. Nashville is 7-0-0 when Weber scores

and 8-1-1 when he records at least one point.

While Weber has two goals and four assists in seven career

matchups in the series, Washington is 6-1-0 in those games. The

Capitals are also 6-2-0 all-time in the series at home.

That doesn’t bode well for a Predators team coming off

Thursday’s 5-2 loss to Carolina. Rookie Marek Mazanec surrendered a

season worst-tying four goals on 13 shots before giving way to

Carter Hutton.

“Their top guys were good tonight, and we didn’t have a match

for them,” coach Barry Trotz told the league’s official website.

“Some of our top guys weren’t on today. I think our core wasn’t as

strong. Every moment counts, and those little moments where we

forget a play, or we’re not ready to play, cost us.”

It’s unclear who the Capitals will go with in goal with Michal

Neuvirth (ankle) expected to remain out through the weekend.

Grubauer, who stopped all nine shots he faced Tuesday, could again

see action Saturday or Sunday at the New York Rangers.

“We’ll see how the games go,” Oates said. “Sometimes you have no


Holtby is 1-3-0 with a 4.04 goals-against average in his last

four home games. He has never faced Nashville.

Predators center Matt Hendricks, who spent the previous three

seasons with Washington, faces his former team for the first


Ovechkin has five goals and four assists in seven games versus