Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Caps Take Early Lead in Route to 4-1 Win over Predators

The Nashville Predators tried to play their usual rope-a-dope game but the 2-0 rope they handed the Washington Capitals in the opening period ended up being too much to reel back in.

After a good second period when the teams were scoreless, the Preds came close in the final period when they pulled within one at 2-1, but two quick goals in the third period by the Caps ended any miracle comeback hopes for the Preds.

The Caps got goals from Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom. Alex Semin, and Troy Brouwer while the Preds' lone goal came from Sergei Kostitsyn.

Michal Neuvirth stopped all but one of the Predators 21 shots to pick up the victory while Anders Lindback gave up four goals on 23 shots to take the loss.

Alexander Ovechkin was clearly the difference maker for the Caps as he played with enthusiasm unseen during this season. In addition to his goal, he had seven shots and three big hits.

The Predators returnedf home after the game and will face Columbus on thursday at 7 p.m. at the Bridgestone Arena.

Make the jump for the comments from the couch...

First Period...

The game was the Predators' first appearance against Caps new coach, Dale Hunter. The game is also being celebrated as Mike Knuble's 1000th NHL game.

Anders Lindback started in net for the Predators. Brian McGrattan (healthy) and Kevin Klein (flu) were scratched. Michal Neuvirth opened in goal for the Caps.

Shea Weber and Francis Bouillon were the opening pairing on defense. Jon Blum and Ryan Suter were the second pair on the ice. Jack Hillen and Roman Josi made up the third defensive set.

The Caps totally dominated the start of the game, keeping the puck in the Preds zone for the better part of the first period. The Preds did not get their first shot until 7:32 when Suter go a shot on goal.

On the next rush, ten seconds later, Ovechkin broke out of his slump when he skated past Blum at the blue line and went straight for the net and walked it in on Lindback to put the Caps ahead, 1-0.

At 9:12, Blake Geoffrion was called for roughing Matt Hendricks after he stepped up for Jerred Smithson who was given a huge hit from Hendricks. The Caps had four shots on the man-advantage and had three or four scoring chances as Lindback had a good workout.

The Caps were outshooting the Preds 10-1 until Jordin Tootoo got the second shot with 8:10 remaining.

At 15:51, Backstrom completely victimized Smithson when he did a complete wrap-around the Pred's goal with no defenders in sight to give the Caps a 2-0 bulge.

The Predators got their first power play at 16:52 when Alex Semin boarded Tootoo. Weber had the only shot on the man-advantage.

1st Period       Goals            Shots          Corsi            PIMs         Faceoffs  
Predators        0         4        11       1-2:00 9-12 43%
Capitals           2        11        21       1-2:00 12-9 57%

Second Period...

The Predators looked much stronger in the second period but the results remained unchanged.

The Preds got a break at 4:17 when the Caps were called for too many men on the ice. Unfortunately, the team got no shots on the man-advantage.

Troy Brouwer got a post at 8:46 on a near goal that has high and to the right of Lindback.

The Predators got another man-advantage chance at when Karl Alzner was called for delay of game. Legwand and Hornqvist had shots during the power play.

The Preds got their third power play of the period when Jason Chimera was called for cross-checking Josi at 17:27. The Predators did little on the power play as they did not get off a shot.

2nd Period      Goals            Shots          Corsi            PIMs        Faceoffs  
Predators        0         8        20      0-0:00 7-9   44%
Capitals             0         3         7      3-6:00 9-7   56%

Third Period...

In an odd strategic move, Caps coach Dale Hunter called time out 41 seconds into the period.

At 4:42 into the third period, Kostitsyn unloaded a fairly meaningless looking snap shot that somehow eluded Neuvirth over his shoulder to pull the Predators within a goal at 2-1. It was the Preds third shot of the period and actually put them ahead in shots 15-14.

Just before midway through the third period, the Weber-Suter pairing re-appeared.

At 10:21, the on-again, off-again, Alex Semin let loose with a laser shot from Lindback's right side that drove a nail in the Predators' comeback possibilities.

Craig Smith was called for holding Mathieu Perreault at 13:19. It took no time for the Caps to convert on the man-advantage 27 seconds later when Brouwer got the puck past Lindback to make it 4-1 and put the game out of reach.

Joel Ward teased the Preds at 14:16 when he slashed Matt Halischuk but the Predators could do nothing.

3rd Period      Goals            Shots          Corsi            PIMs         Faceoffs  
Predators        1         9        19      1-2:00 7-14  33%
Capitals            2         9        19      1-2:00 14-7  66%


Final     Goals            Shots          Corsi            PIMs         Faceoffs  
Predators        1        23        50       2-4:00 23-35 40%
Capitals            4        21        47      5-10:00 35-20 60%

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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