WASHINGTON — The Nashville Predators showed some promise amid a disappointing season by beating the Washington Capitals 5-4 Wednesday night in a weird game that featured a bad goaltender turnover and a worse own-goal.
Ryan Johansen tied it after a giveaway by Washington goalie Braden Holtby, and Yannick Weber scored the go-ahead goal with 4:37 left in the third period. Nashville moved within four points of the final playoff position in the Western Conference and improved to 4-4 under new coach John Hynes, who replaced Peter Laviolette earlier this month.
Predators goalie Juuse Saros made 29 saves to make up for handing the puck to Alex Ovechkin for his 693rd goal and compensating for teammate Nick Bonino shooting the puck off him and into their own net. Those blunders seemed to encapsulate what’s going wrong with Nashville, which has struggled, especially without concussed defenceman Ryan Ellis.
Little-used defenceman Jarred Tinordi also scored his first NHL goal in his dad’s old home arena. Former Capitals prospect Filip Forsberg had two assists to give him 15 points in 11 games against the team that drafted and traded him away.
The game not only included mistakes by Saros and Bonino but a strange moment in the third when Richard Panik punched Johansen in the face while standing on the bench. Each player was sent to the penalty box.
The Capitals had their winning streak snapped at four despite Ovechkin’s 35th of the season and a two-goal game from Panik, who was credited with one when Bonino shot the puck off Saros. Holtby allowed five goals on 24 shots and still has not won back-to-back starts since early December.
Ovechkin continued to climb the NHL’s career goals list after honouring Kobe Bryant by wearing a No. 24 jersey during pregame warmups. Ovechkin went back to his usual No. 8 — Bryant’s other number with the Los Angeles Lakers — and passed Steve Yzerman for sole possession of ninth place in league history.
The Predators have won eight in a row against the Capitals. … Ovechkin joined Wayne Gretzky, Mike Gartner and Marcel Dionne as the only players to score 35 goals in at least 12 seasons. … Mikael Granlund and Rocco Grimaldi also scored for Nashville.
Predators coach John Hynes faces the team that fired him earlier this season when Nashville visits the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.
Rookie goalie Ilya Samsonov is expected to start in net for the Capitals when they visit the Ottawa Senators on Friday.
Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press