WASHINGTON – The Washington Capitals wasted little time pouncing on the Nashville Predators, scoring three unanswered first-period goals en route to a 5-2 victory on Saturday at Verizon Center.
Troy Brouwer, Alex Ovechkin, Karl Alzner, Nate Schmidt and Eric Fehr scored for Washington. Braden Holtby made 34 saves in the win.
"Lately a lot of the time, we've been coming from behind, having to come down from either one or two goals," Brouwer said. "You're not going to have a ton of success later on in the season doing that. We were able to squeeze out some points here and there, but you can only win so many games like that, so for us, we wanted to get off to a good start...and we did."
"It's making it very difficult," Predators coach Barry Trotz said of the recent slide. "You can't just look at the big picture, better to just look at the next game. Win the next game and you've got to work at it a game at a time. ... We just don't have the finish we need right now."
Brouwer opened the scoring with his sixth goal of the season and his second at even strength at 6:44. Marek Mazanec (28 saves) made the initial save on Fehr's shot from the right half-wall, but could not swallow the rebound. Despite being tangled up with Ryan Ellis in front, Brouwer was able to get enough on the puck for it to trickle past Mazanec's outstretched right leg and over the goal line.
Washington received its first power play of the game at 13:06, and it took Ovechkin all of three seconds to extend the lead to 2-0 with his League-leading 22nd goal, when he blew a slap shot past Mazanec off a clean faceoff victory by Nicklas Backstrom (two assists).
Alzner's slap shot from the point – his first-ever goal at Verizon Center in his 148th career home game – gave the Capitals a 3-0 lead at 16:19, but it was short-lived. Josi responded with his first goal of the season in the waning moments of the period.
After a scoreless second period, the Capitals and Predators exchanged goals within 23 seconds in the third. Schmidt scored his first career NHL goal at 3:29 before Nystrom answered with his fifth of the season at 3:53.
"Me and [Schmidt] have been talking about it back and forth how he hasn't scored yet and I haven't scored at home," Alzner said. "In the intermission, I said, 'Alright Schmidty, now that I've scored, you can score one,' and he went out and did it."
Fehr then restored Washington's three-goal lead with a wrister at 14:50.
Coincidentally, each team's next game is against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The Capitals visit on Sunday; Nashville will visit New York on Tuesday.