Monday, March 31, 2014
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Predators Win On Smith's Shootout Goal

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[March 31, 2014]  NASHVILLE, Tenn.  It turns out that all the Nashville Predators needed to snap out of their shootout slump was for a Zamboni to break down on their home ice  and a huge goal from center Craig Smith.

Smith scored the lone goal of the shootout and goaltender Carter Hutton and the Nashville Predators stymied the Washington Capitals for a 4-3 victory on Sunday night.

As the teams prepared for the shootout after overtime, the ice resurfacing machine broke down and started dumping piles of ice over the rink. After the five-minute delay, Smith slapped a wrist shot past goalie Jaroslav Halak and Hutton made three stops, including two kick saves.

The Predators won a shootout for just the second time in 10 tries this season.

"Delay, delay, delay, drop snow all over the place," Nashville coach Barry Trotz joked about the broken Zamboni. "It was good. We needed that. I thought we deserved the game. Five-on-five, I thought we were much better than they were tonight. I thought we managed the pucks well. We turned that into a three-quarter-ice game on them."

The Capitals dropped their third straight and second in as many days after a 4-2 loss to Boston in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. The Capitals also missed an opportunity to move into a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. With 81 points, Washington trails Columbus by a point and pushes ahead of Toronto by a point.

"There aren't enough games left to be too positive about only getting one point," Capitals defenseman John Carlson said. "Yeah, it is a point, but it's only going to make our road harder. I thought we were just a little bit lackadaisical here and there throughout the game."

Center Nicklas Backstrom scored the game-tying goal and had two assists for the Capitals. But, with the third and final attempt in the shootout, he was not able to sneak the puck past Hutton, who made 26 saves on 29 shots.

The Predators took a 3-2 lead on defenseman Shea Weber's go-ahead goal 8:23 into the third period. On the rush, center Matt Cullen passed to center Mike Fisher, who dropped the puck to a trailing Weber. The Predators captain scored his team-leading 21st goal by firing a slap shot past Halak.

Backstrom answered with a snap shot at the 12:20 mark for the Capitals' second power-play goal of the game.

Right wing Troy Brouwer scored twice for the Capitals and has eight points in the past seven games.

Nashville right wing Patric Hornqvist scored the 100th and 101st goals of his career in the first period. After Brouwer scored to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead, Hornqvist crashed the net after a Weber slap shot and wristed a shot over the right leg of Halak.

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"Sometimes you just have to give their team credit," Washington coach Adam Oates said. "We scored first and they came back with a faceoff goal and then an unlucky play for a breakaway."

With 90 seconds remaining in the first period, Hornqvist struck again for a 2-1 lead on a wrist shot. The score came after Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin had a breakaway and closed in on the net, only to see Weber make a sliding stop and poke check the puck away.

"The guy has 48 goals so you know he is a capable of scoring and he has done it for years," Weber said. "He is a proven scorer and one of the best players in the world and lot of fun when you get that chance... Luckily I got a piece of it because he had me down and out of it."

Nashville rebounded from a 7-3 loss to Dallas but, with six games left, still has a long way to go in chasing down a playoff spot. With six games left, the Predators are in 11th place in the Western Conference and seven points behind Phoenix for the eighth spot.

NOTES: Predators D Seth Jones missed his fourth straight game with an upper-body injury and continued to be listed as day-to-day. ... Nashville C Paul Gaustad sat out for the sixth straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Predators LW Nick Spaling did not dress (upper- and lower-body injury). ... Washington C Mikhail Grabovski returned to the lineup for the first time since Feb. 27. He missed 22 of the last 23 games with a left ankle sprain. ... D Jack Hillen did not join the Capitals in Nashville after suffering an upper-body injury in a collision with Washington LW Alex Ovechkin on Tuesday against Los Angeles. ... Washington visited Nashville for the first time since Nov. 15, 2011. ... The Capitals had won seven of the last eight meetings between the teams, including a 5-2 victory earlier this season. ... Washington C Patrick Wey did not return to the game after taking a hit to the head during a fight with Nashville LW Rich Clune midway through the first period.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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