The Washington Capitals and Nashville Predators battled back and forth like prize heavy-weight fighters in DC on Tuesday night, trading goals on three different occasions. It was Michael Nylander who delivered the knockout blow for the Capitals in the fourth round of a shootout. The Caps never trailed and head to Buffalo with a big two points.
The Caps got on the board first at 12:13 of the first period on a goal by Viktor Kozlov, his first of the year. It was not much more than a minute and a half later that Nashville would answer on the power-play. Ville Koistinen took a pass from J.P. Dumont and hammered the puck from the point past a screened Jose Theodore. Theodore got the start even amongst reports that Brent Johnson would be in goal. The Caps responded just two minutes later with Nashville on the power-play when Alex Semin hit David Steckel coming off the bench. Steckel came in all alone on Dan Ellis and scored his second goal of the season, short-handed. Nashville would respond in a sleeper of a second period when Jason Arnott scored his fourth of the year. The Caps would rally back in the third on the power-play when Semin found the net, his eighth. Semin took a nice cross-ice feed from Nick Backstrom and put it home. Jason Arnott would strike again at 13:24 of the third, with assists to Ryan Suter and J.P. Dumont. After sixty minutes and five minutes of four on four hockey, nothing was solved. The Caps and Preds headed to a shootout. Viktor Kozlov and Radek Bonk went first in the shootout, both came up empty. Next it was Semin's turn and he didn't disappoint beating Ellis on a nice move. Dumont went second for Nashville and couldn't beat Theodore. Nick Backstrom with a chance to win the game couldn't beat Ellis. Nashville's chance to tie was given to Ville Koistinen and he beat Theodore glove side to send the game to extra shooters. Nylander skated in and beat Ellis high, and Theodore stopped Martin Erat to preserve the win for the Caps.
The Caps went one for five on the power-play, even without power-play quarterback and scoring sensation Ovechkin. The Caps penalty-kill continued to improve, killing off six of seven. Alexander Semin kept on doing, as he has all year so far, he had a goal and an assist. He now leads the league with 16 points. Jose Theodore played another strong game, especially down the stretch and in the shootout. He stopped twenty-three of twenty-six shots he faced. Dan Ellis, in a losing effort, for Nashville also played extremely well stopping twenty-nine of the thirty-two shots he faced. Theodore and the Caps regained the top spot in the Southeast with the win, as Carolina lost in a shootout to Montreal. The Caps have a few days off to get some much needed rest after playing four games in seven days. The Capitals next head to Buffalo to face the Sabres on Saturday night at 7pm. Ovechkin is not expected to be in the line-up for a second straight game as he continues to remain in Russia with his ailing grandfather. More to come later in the week.