Predators put streak on line vs. Capitals (Nov 14, 2017)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — After 12 games in which they lost more than they won and seemingly couldn’t find the back of the net with a GPS, the Nashville Predators appear to have snapped out of their slump.

Going into Tuesday night’s visit from the Washington Capitals, Nashville (9-5-2) has won its last four games, scoring 16 goals. Its power play is one of the top 10 in the NHL and it is also starting to get the even-strength goal scoring that was such an issue in October.

What’s more, the Predators are finally getting a chance to play some home games. Saturday night’s 5-4 shootout victory over Pittsburgh opened a stretch where they play 10 of 14 games in raucous Bridgestone Arena, where they are 4-1-1.

“It’s good to be back in front of our fans and to hear some of our cheers when we score because we haven’t had that happen in a while,” left winger Filip Forsberg said. “It is going to be a lot of fun and we’re going to take advantage of it.”

If the past is any indication, Forsberg is the most likely to take advantage of it with Washington (10-7-1). The former Capitals prospect, who general manager David Poile acquired at the 2013 trading deadline for Martin Erat in what will probably end up as one of the most lopsided trades in NHL history, has five goals and four assists in six career games against Washington.

Forsberg has been Nashville’s most dangerous offensive player this season, scoring eight goals and adding eight assists in 16 games. He registered two helpers on the power play against Pittsburgh, and his seven total shots against the Penguins indicate a guy who might break a five-game goal drought against a favorite mark.

Just as important to coach Peter Laviolette, though, is getting points from his third and fourth lines. Calle Jarnkrok delivered a goal that snapped a 3-3 tie early in the third period Saturday night, and Miikka Salomaki set up Kyle Turris’ first goal with the Predators early in the second period.

“Balance is great if you can get it,” Laviolette said. “I know it wasn’t there at the beginning of the year and it was a hot topic.”

The Capitals (10-7-1) figure to test the Predators’ recent offensive prowess, in part because of the play of goalie Braden Holtby. He picked up his 200th career win Friday night in stopping Pittsburgh 4-1, then saved 29 of 30 shots and all three shootout attempts Sunday night when Washington edged Edmonton 2-1.

Included in that performance were six saves in a 71-second stretch late in the second period as the Oilers kept pumping pucks at the net.

“That was a pretty stupid sequence,” forward Tom Wilson said. “It’s amazing every night you get to watch him. It’s an absolute treat. He’s one of the elite goalies.”

Holtby (10-3-0, 2.35, .927) figures to match up with Nashville’s Pekka Rinne (8-2-2, 2.23, .929), who at age 35 is playing some of the best hockey of his career. Rinne stopped 26 shots against Pittsburgh and came up with a big glove save on Evgeni Malkin in the shootout.

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