Tuesday night hockey with Versus exclusively showing Thrashers-Flyers means no other game going on at the same time is televised. Stephen Whyno here live-blogging the Capitals-Predators game from high atop Verizon Center.
First piece of news involves the goaltending situation. Brent Johnson was the first off the ice at morning skate (the traditional indicator of who is starting), but Jose Theodore is getting the nod tonight. Tom Poti (groin) and Eric Fehr (healthy) are the Caps’ scratches, along with Alex Ovechkin who is in Russia to be with his ailing grandfather.
15:30 left in first - The Caps have gotten plenty of early pressure on Predators goalie Dan Ellis, including a wicked wrister from the slot by Nicklas Backstrom. Caps outshooting Predators five to one. Still 0-0
14:40 left in first - First power play of the game goes to the Caps on a slashing penalty to Nashville’s Scott Nichol.
11:55 left in first - The disparity in shots on goal is even bigger now, with the Caps up 9-1. Another power play for Washington, thanks to a cross-checking call on Shea Weber.
9:52 left in first - Missed opportunity for the Caps on their second power play. Some slick passes got Nashville’s defense out of position and Michael Nylander had the puck in front of Ellis and took a point-blank shot instead of finding a wide-open Mike Green on the other side of the net.
That power play is over, but the Caps have been the aggressors so far, outshooting the Predators 10-2. Ellis has been the difference, denying the various scoring chances.
7:47 left in first - Viktor Kozlov gets the Caps on the board with a rebound goal just a minute after Ellis made a gorgeous save on Chris Clark. Caps lead 1-0 and have a 14-2 advantage in shots. Assist on the goal goes to Mike Green. The goal is Kozlov’s first of the season.
Caps are now killing a penalty assessed to Backstrom.
5:37 left in first - On the power play, the Predators tie the score at 1-1 on a goal from the point by Ville Koistinen. J.P. Dumont and Martin Erat get the assists as Nashville scores on just its third shot. Washington is short-handed again after a hooking call on Michael Nylander.
4:22 left - David Steckel scores a short-handed goal five-hole on Dan Ellis to put the Caps up 2-1. Steckel tried to deke back-hand, but just lost control of the puck and it slipped between Ellis’ pads. Alexander Semin gets the assist.
The first period is over, and the story so far has to be the Caps’ domination in the offensive zone. Steckel will probably be laughing afterward about his goal, but he and the rest of the team should be happy about how much pressure they are putting on Ellis. The Caps own a 19-4 advantage in shots and have had the vast majority of scoring chances. Ellis has been good to keep the score 2-1, but Nashville coach Barry Trotz will probably have some adjustments to make to prevent his goalie from getting pelted even worse in the second.
19:34 left in second - Chris Clark is whistled for elbowing and Predators go on the power play - with fresh ice at the start of the period.
17:41 left in second - Nashville’s Dan Hamhuis goes to the box for tripping, negating the last seven seconds of the Predators’ power play. Caps now have the man advantage.
14:02 left in second - The Caps failed to score on their first power play of the period, but they get another thanks to a holding call on Greg de Vries.
11:39 left in second - On the Caps’ power play, Semin had an excellent opportunity in front of the net but was unable to cash in. He had the puck and plenty of time, just feet from the goalie and deked around Ellis, with his attempt hitting the left post.
Milan Jurcina got up on the play a minute or so later, hitting the right post. The power play is over. The Caps’ shot advantage is now 21-6.
8:15 left in second - Jason Arnott ties it up for the Predators on a beautiful back-handed goal. Dumont sent the pass past rookie Patric Hornqvist and right to Nashville’s captain, who put it past Theodore. It may have been deflected in front by Mike Green. Either way the game is tied 2-2.
3:49 left in second - Another opportunity for the Caps as Mike Green’s shot from the point deflected off Ellis’ pads and fluttered to Sergei Fedorov. The puck dribbled off the post to Ellis’ weak side. The Predators goalie has been exceptionally sharp, stopping 24 of the Caps’ 26 shots.
2:45 left in second - Caps go on the penalty kill after having too many men on the ice. The penalty kill was successful as the defensemen succeeded in mucking up the offensive zone and keeping the puck behind the net for the latter part of the power play.
End of second period - The Caps find themselves in a tie game despite clearly being the better team. They have had more scoring chances, more shots (26-11) and more flow in the offensive zone. Predators goalie Dan Ellis has been stellar, and neither of the two goals were Jose Theodore’s fault. The first was a point-blank slap shot on the power play, and the second was a tipped pass that got through to Arnott (again, on the goalie’s weak side).
18:02 left in third - So much for the tie game. A power-play goal by Alexander Semin gives the Caps a 3-2 lead. It was the perfect power-play marker. Nicklas Backstrom had the puck behind the net, spotted Backstrom open in the slot and threaded the pass through. Semin was very, very open and fired the shot high glove side past Ellis.
15:23 left in third - Brooks Laich whistled for hooking as the Caps go on the penaty kill.
12:40 left in third - The hockey saying goes that the goalie needs to be the best penalty killer. On this kill, Theodore was. After the penalty, Theodore still looks like he’s on his game.
11:22 left in third - Another minute, another penalty for the Caps. This time it’s Nylander for hooking.
9:14 left in third - The Caps kill off yet another penalty, and Theodore has been the best player on the ice in this third period (close second to Semin). Theodore now has 21 saves on 23 shots.
6:36 left - Jason Arnott deflects a shot from the right point by Ryan Suter past Theodore to tie the game. It appeared to go off Arnott’s skate to Theodore’s left. That’s deflating for the Caps after their goalie had been playing so well in the third period.
4:26 left in third - After Washington dominated play in the first two periods, it has been Nashville’s turn in the third. The Predators have a 14-2 shot advantage in the third period.
4:09 left in third - Another Caps penalty, this one to Shaone Morrisonn for interference.
1:53 left in third - The Caps kill off the penalty despite being unable to clear the zone on consecutive attempts.
0:24 left in third - It’s getting chippy now, but the referees seem to be letting the play go … for now.
End of regulation - These two teams are headed to overtime. The Predators controlled the play for almost the whole third period, outshooting the Capitals 15-3.
4:27 left in overtime - Semin had a great chance on a break, but shot directly into Ellis’ body.
This one’s going to a shootout.
End of game - Alexander Semin and Michael Nylander score in the shootout, giving the Caps the 4-3 win. A well-deserved point for Nashville, and relief for Washington - getting the win after so thoroughly dominating the first two periods and getting outplayed in the third.