Late goal catches Capitals in 2-3 loss to Predators

The Washington Capitals came home for a two-game homestand beginning with the Nashville Predators tonight with a loss. A goal by Ryan McDonagh late in the third period sealed it for the Predators. The Capitals’ offensive strength was limited by a surprisingly physical Nashville side. Both teams were in the second half of back-to-back games.

The first goal of the game was scored at 4:10 of the first period by Predators’ center Thomas Novak. After a brief board battle and subsequent failed clear by Erik Gustafsson, Novak recovered the puck and charged the net. The puck was fired past Charlie Lindgren’s stick side to give Nashville the early lead. Sonny Milano put Washington on the board with a drive from in close. The play began with a Dmitry Orlov point shot that rebounded to Conor Sheary. Sheary tapped it toward the net to create another rebound which was flipped into the net by a waiting Milano at 9:52. Yakov Trenin gave Nashville the lead back at 15:09 when he collected a shot by Jeremy Lauzon and batted it into the net from five feet away.

The second period featured only one goal scored by Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Collecting the puck at center ice, he entered the zone virtually untouched. He then walked around Nino Niederreiter and split the remaining Predators’ defense, finally slipping the puck between Kevin Lankinen’s legs to tie the game once more at 11:07. In the final period, McDonagh rang in the winning goal. After accepting a touch pass from Ryan Johansen inside the line, he drove to the net, deked left, then started to lose his edge. He managed to maintain the puck and, as he was falling, he hooked the puck from his backhand side into the wide-open long side. The Capitals pulled Lindgren for the sixth attacker. A last-ditch pass to Alex Ovechkin by Dylan Strome was blocked by Nashville defenseman Alexandre Carrier with seconds remaining, preserving the win.

The game itself was notable for the Capitals having the shot advantage 32 to 21. However, the majority of these shots were limited to perimeter shots that came from either the point or no closer than the tops of the circles. Washington did have two power plays where higher quality chances were had but failed to convert on either of them.

CAPITALS NOTES—Milano’s goal was his 100th career NHL point. In a possible preview of lineup changes, Aliaksei Protas was a notable healthy scratch for the game and Anthony Mantha was once again assigned to the fourth line. Mantha received less than 10 minutes time on ice, the only Capital to do so. Washington’s next game is Sunday evening with a start time of 5 PM ET. Their opponent is the Columbus Blue Jackets who they will be facing in a return match from 48 hours previous.

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