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Capitals vs. Predators Recap: Despite Two-Goal Effort By Kuznetsov, Capitals Edged 4-3

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A late goal in the third by Ryan Johansen lifted the Nashville Predators past the Washington Capitals in the back-and-forth affair.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It was a real barnburner in Capital One Arena Thursday night, with the league-leading Nashville Predators besting the Washington Capitals 4-3 on a go-ahead goal late in the third period. As the old saying goes, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, boys.

Here’s Thursday night’s Plus/Minus:

  • Plus: Evgeny Kuznetsov is heating up at just the right time, with his two goals tonight giving him 18 points in the last 10 games.
  • Minus: Former Capitals first-round pick Filip Forsberg lead an end-to-end rush, setting up the sequence that allowed Ryan Johansen to trickle one past Philipp Grubauer for the game-winner. Hockey Gods, have you no mercy?

And now, this...

Ten more notes on the game:

  • In a pre-game ceremony, Alex Ovechkin was honored in front of the home crowd for reaching his 1,000th regular season game on Sunday against Pittsburgh. The emotional tribute video included messages from the likes of Sergei Federov and Wizards point guard John Wall. In addition to the Tiffany crystal and silver stick presented by NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, Ovechkin’s teammates gifted him a Messi jersey and trip-for-two to see FC Barcelona play. Not too shabby.
  • It was a battle of the backups tonight, with Philipp Grubauer facing off against the Predators’ Juuse Saros.
  • TJ Oshie returned to the lineup after missing Monday’s game against St. Louis. Jay Beagle remained out, allowing Travis Boyd to slot in. Beagle is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
  • Is it really the end of the regular season without a rash of depth-threatening injuries? The Capitals had an early scare in the first after Andre Burakovsky took a Ryan Ellis slapper to the inside of his leg. Thankfully, Burakovsky returned late in the first. Alex Chiasson was ruled out for the rest of the game with an undisclosed injury after playing just 4:10 in the first period.
  • An early slashing call on Nicklas Backstrom at 16:05 allowed the Predators to draw first blood. Craig Smith cashed in on a rebound in the blue paint off of a Ryan Johansen shot from the left circle. Smith would net his second of the game on a nearly identical goal, banging in a rebound off of Grubauer’s chest to tie it 2-2 in the second.
  • Tell me if you’ve heard this one before, but Alex Ovechkin scored from top the left circle on a feed from Kuznetsov to tie the game on the power play early in the second. At what point is the Rocket Richard Trophy going to be re-named the Great Eight?
  • About two minutes later the Predators got called for another penalty, this one PK Subban for slashing on Tom Wilson. Evgeny Kuznetsov tied the game sixteen seconds later after his pass across the blue paint deflected off of Ryan Ellis’ skate. Kuznetsov opened the third period with his second of the night, giving the Capitals their second lead of the night.
  • Here’s some good news: the Capitals scored twice on the power play tonight! The bad news is that the Predators also scored twice on the power play. Roman Josi tied the game midway through the third on a slapper from the left circle.
  • After Filip Forsberg rang one off the goal post, Ryan Johansen trickled the rebound off of a Victor Arvidsson slap shot past the outstretched glove of a falling Grubauer. It felt a lot like watching a car crash in slow motion.
  • Just to rub salt in the would, Nick Bonino was called for tripping in the last second of the game. The Capitals could not convert on the abbreviated power play, and their night was over. Bummer.

With their win tonight, the Predators clinched the Presidents’ Trophy. In other news, the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Columbus Blue Jackets in OT tonight, lowering the chances of a first round series against the Penguins. The Capitals finish out their regular season Saturday against the New Jersey Devils.

Game highlights: