Postgame Notebook: Predators 3, Capitals 0
Nobody’s Perfect –
Washington put its perfect 5-0 pre-season mark on the line against Nashville on Sunday at Verizon Center, bidding for the first perfect exhibition slate in franchise history. The Capitals closed out the pre-season on the short end of a 3-0 whitewashing at the hands of the Predators.
“They played a great game,” says Caps defenseman Karl Alzner
. “Training camp’s a tough time. It would’ve been nice to win every single game in preseason but at the same time it was good to get a little bit of a wake-up call.”
started in goal for the Capitals, and he was perfect in stopping all 13 shots he faced in 30:03 of work. Dany Sabourin
came on in relief midway through the second period of a scoreless game, and he was nicked for a goal on the first shot he faced less than two minutes after taking over.
Just after Sabourin left the bench for the crease, the Caps were unable to get the puck out of their own end. A couple of crisp passes later, the disc came to Cal O’Reilly in front. He settled it and lifted a backhander over Sabourin’s shoulder for all the offense Nashville would need on this day.
In a physical but mostly clean affair, the Caps got a rare power play chance midway through the third, and an opportunity to get on the board and even the score. But when a bouncing puck eluded Washington defenseman Mike Green
at the right point, Predators winger Joel Ward turned on the jets. He scooped up the loose puck and beat Sabourin on a shorthanded breakaway to make it 2-0 for the visitors.
Caps defenseman Brian Fahey
also had a bouncing puck get by him at the right point less than a minute after Ward’s goal. Fahey hooked and then slashed Nashville’s Steve Sullivan to prevent another shorthanded breakaway tally, but took a double-minor in the process. The Caps killed that off, but just after they did so the Preds executed a brilliant passing sequence that culminated with Ward converting an O’Reilly feed from behind the net.
Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne stopped all 22 Washington shots to earn the shutout.
“I’m never happy when we lose,” laments Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. “You never want to give them an excuse, but at the same time we’re in training camp and it’s probably a good thing we got ours today. It’s one game, and I think all the guys are glad [pre-season is] over.”
Final Tune-up –
Caps goaltender Semyon Varlamov
is said to be nursing a minor injury. But the reality is he played one half of one pre-season game, and it was the team’s first pre-season game. That was back on Sept. 22 in Columbus, and Varlamov hasn’t seen game action since.
With every day that goes by without Varlamov returning to practice, the likelihood increases that Neuvirth gets the starting assignment in Friday’s season opener against the Thrashers in Atlanta.
“I’m pretty excited about [the possibility of being the opening night starter],” admits Neuvirth. “It’s still a long way to go until Friday. I’m just going to keep working harder in practices and hopefully I’m going to be as sharp as today.”
Keep It Even –
Washington allowed a dozen goals in the pre-season, with half of that total coming in the team’s final two games. But only seven of those 12 goals came at even strength.
By The Numbers – Eric Fehr
accounted for six of Washington’s 22 shots on goal for the afternoon … Green led the Caps with 23:11 in ice time. Alex Ovechkin
led Washington forwards with 18:45 … Alzner led the Capitals with four blocked shots. Fahey and Green each had three … The three goals Sabourin allowed on Sunday were the first he surrendered in three pre-season outings covering 93 minutes of work.