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Capitals vs. Predators Recap: Sloppy Game Costs Caps in 5-4 Loss

Goaltending issues at both ends of the ice and sloppy play by the Caps in particular dooms the home team

Nashville Predators v Washington Capitals Patrick Smith/Getty Images

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The Washington Capitals returned from their bye week and All-Star break for their first home game in nearly two weeks on Wednesday night. After the players basked in the Mexican/Miami/someplace better than you were sun and Carey Price’s weaknesses, Caps fans returned to Capital One Arena. Surprisingly, the hockey rink was not filled with cobwebs and scary characters from horror movies. Fans got a free scarf too, which will come in handy when the temperatures hit 60º next week.

The Capitals, facing off on national television against the Nashville Predators, looked ready to begin the unofficial second half of the season smoothly against a team that fired its coach just a few weeks ago. Watching a Predators broadcast is more terrifying than 1917, at least though the announcers’ point of view.

This game, too, was horrifyingly bad for at least two people: Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and Predators netminder Juuse Saros.

The goaltenders were more bowling pins than puck stoppers at times, but the Predators managed to pull off a comeback 5-4 victory.

Plus: Alex Ovechkin, with his first period tap-in goal, moved into sole possession of ninth place on the NHL all-time goal-scoring list with 693 goals, passing Steve Yzerman.

Minus: There were a lot of weak goals, including an own goal from below the redline by the Predators. That gave a struggling Richard Panik a two-goal game as Slovakian was the last Caps player to touch the puck after scoring on a weak shot to open to scoring. Holtby also allowed an inexcusable five-goal goal. There were other soft tallies, including Ovechkin’s aforementioned goal. I may be missing a few, but my brain can only handle so much.

  1. Through two periods, the Capitals had 16 even-strength shots on goal and 13 shots on goal on the power play — and a goal without a shot on goal. Hockey is weird.
  2. About that Caps power play... after spending most of December and January in the cellar of the league, showed signs of life. It went one-for-five, but that’s still a 25 percent clip and generated a myriad of chances.
  3. Tuesday, Capitals head coach Todd Reirden said the team would make its goaltending decisions “game-by-game.” Holtby did not make a strong argument for himself in this game, but Ilya Samsonov will get the next start in Canada’s capital against the Ottawa Senators. Who gets the Super Bowl Sunday start against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins will be interesting.
  4. The fourth goal, a shorthanded goal that gave up the lead. I haveno idea what Holtby was doing. On a power play with no pressure Holtby did not wait for his teammates to come and breakout on a rush, and instead attempted a clear in largely open ice. One player was waiting. It was the Predators Ryan Johansen. That goal, as Braden will freely admit, is sudden in its foolishness and completely inexcusable for an NHL netminder.
  5. Yzerman said in a video message played on the Capital One Arena big screen he wants to party in the Georgetown fountains with Ovi should Alex ever break Wayne Gretzky’s league record. Can you blame him?
  6. Let’s go Ovechkin crazy. The whole league is at this point. Number eight needs seven goals to hit 700 for his career. You should soak this in while you can. He is one of the best players in history, and his skyrocket up the league’s record books is finally giving a chance for hockey fans all over North America to appreciate it fully.
  7. Former Capitals first-round draft pick Filip Forsberg had two assists. I’ll stop now.
  8. The Capitals are under .500 against three teams. The Predators are one of them. Nashville is now on an eight-game win streak against Washington that dates back to Feb. 25, 2017. In their past 13 meetings, the Preds are 11-2-0 vs. the Caps and have scored at least five goals in six of those games.

This was a bad hockey game.

The Caps are back in action Friday night in Ottawa. The Sens are bad. So, Capitals, please win that one — and make it more of a hockey game than a hockey-adjacent sporting contest.