Preview #33: Predators winning streak on line versus Washington
Nashville Predators 17-11-4
Washington Capitals 16-14-1
The Washington Capitals find themselves in recent unfamiliar territory, outside of a playoff position in the Eastern Conference standings. With a 4-6-0 record in their last 10 games, including a 2-1 loss to Colorado on Saturday night, the Caps will be looking to turn things around at Verizon Center when the Nashville Predators bring their five-game winning streak to town.
With the fifth best power play in the league at a 21.3 percent success rate, the Predators will be looking to get some chances on the man advantage Tuesday night. Predators forward Martin Erat pointed out after Nashville’s 2-1 win over the Blues on Saturday night that the Predators have only had one power play opportunity in the last two games.
Erat remains a player to watch on Tuesday night for Nashville. The right wing scored his sixth goal of the season on Saturday night. It was his first tally since the Predators beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 on November 17th. Despite the lack of goal scoring, Erat has been one of the Predators most consistent forwards with 14 assists on the season, including 5 assists during the current five-game winning streak.
In 9 career games against Washington, Erat has 8 points, including 1 goal and 7 assists.
Pekka Rinne will likely start in goal for Nashville, with back-to-back games later in the week meaning Anders Lindback will probably get a start either Thursday or Friday when Nashville faces both the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Dallas Stars.
Rinne’s one game against Washington came earlier in the season when the Predators beat the Capitals in dramatic fashion. After a scoreless first two periods, there was a flurry of goals in the final five minutes of regulation, three of them coming from the Predators.
Rinne’s 1.00 goals against average and .975 save percentage will be put to the test as Alex Ovechkin looks to get his game back on track. In the last 10 games, Ovechkin only has 2 goals.
The Capitals remain down a couple of regulars on the blue line with Mike Green and Tom Poti still out of the lineup with groin injuries. While Green has been out since the middle of November with a strained right groin, Poti never even got to start the season. Defense is not the Capitals strongest suit, giving up an average 3.06 goals a game to their opponents, ranking 23rd in the League to Nashville’s 12th best 2.59 goals per game.
After Tuesday night’s contest, the Predators return home for one game when the Columbus Blue Jackets return to Bridgestone Arena for the first in back-to-back games Thursday and Friday night.