Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena:
How it happened: Marcus Johansson returned to the lineup with a bang, scoring one goal and assisting on two others as the Caps notched their fourth straight victory in Barry Trotz’s first win in Nashville as the Caps’ coach. Tom Wilson and Justin Williams picked up a goal and an assist and Jason Chimera and Alex Ovechkin also scored for the Caps, who withstood a furious third-period rally by the Preds.
What it means: The Caps improved their league-leading record to 39-9-4 to move 17 points ahead of the New York Rangers with one game in hand. The 39 wins are one more than the Caps had two years ago, when they missed the playoffs with a 38-30-13 record, resulting in the purging of head coach Adam Oates and general manager George McPhee.
Mojo rising: Thanks the return of Johansson the Caps’ third line was their best all night, recording three goals, three assists and five shots. Johansson used his speed to drive the net on the Caps’ first goal, allowing Wilson to find Chimera for a tap-in. Johansson then threaded a pass for a Wilson one-timer to give the Caps a 2-0 lead.
Ovi ends power-play drought: The Caps failed on two power plays before Alex Ovechkin snapped an 0-for-19 drought with a power play empty-netter with 1:23 remaining. Ovechkin was on the ice with a 4-3 lead and Pekka Rinne pulled for an extra attacker when he drew a tripping penalty. Trotz alertly sent two defensemen onto the ice for the man-advantage and the strategy paid off when Ovechkin came up with the puck and shot it into an empty net for his 31st goal, one behind league-leader Patrick Kane.
Forsberg: Former Caps first-round draft pick Filip Forsberg had a strong night with two goals on four shots. He was also a minus-1 to fall to minus-7.
If the season ended tonight …: The top-seeded Caps would face the eighth-seeded Penguins.
What’s ahead: The Caps were scheduled to leave for Minnesota following Tuesday night’s game, where they will practice on Wednesday in preparation for Thursday night’s game against the Wild, who have one win in their last 12 games. Defenseman Brooks Orpik, sidelined since Nov. 10 with a lower body injury, is expected to take part in the practice and could be cleared