NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—The Nashville Predators are focused on the playoffs again after holding a players-only meeting earlier this week.
“A lot of guys were still on their break,” Hartnell said. “We needed a strong effort after Wednesday night’s game.”
The Predators lost 5-2 in Chicago on Wednesday, and coach Barry Trotz called it one of the worst efforts of the season.
“I never doubt our guys care a lot about what they’re doing,” Trotz said. “I just said, ‘Let’s not play uptight, let’s play our game and the rest will take care of itself.”’
Zidlicky had a power-play goal in the second period when he put a rebound of his own shot around Maxime Ouellet’s left pad. Hartnell added a goal with 10.9 seconds left in the period on a three-on-two break, giving Nashville a commanding 4-1 lead.
“I think when you’re playing well and you’re confident and you’ve got some wins under your belt those things won’t break a hockey team’s spirit,” Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said. “When you’re sitting where we are in the standings, these are the things sometimes that are hard to overcome.”
Nashville could have easily had another goal earlier in the second, but Ouellet made the best of his 31 saves by diving across the crease to stop Scott Walker’s shot.
“I tried to focus on the first save and was trying to recover to make the second save if I had to, but they were so quick to jump on those rebounds,” Ouellet said.
Nashville came out determined in the first period, scoring four minutes in when Hartnell poked Andreas Johansson’s shot through the legs of Ouellet on its only man advantage in the period.
With 13:09 left in the first, the Predators scored again on Orszagh’s rebound of a shot by Erat. His assist gave him a career high for points in a season with 34. He added another assist in the second, and Smith scored his goal early in the third.
Washington had plenty of chances, but went 0-for-6 on the power play.
“I thought they did a real excellent job—both the power play and the penalty kill,” Trotz said. “They were 0-for-6 and we were 2-for-5, and if you can be that every night, it’s a big advantage.”
The Capitals’ Mike Grier scored midway through the first period, and Peter Bondra finished the scoring with his 20th goal late in the third. Robert Lang had an assist, giving him 40 to go with his 26 goals this season.
Neither team started its top goaltender. Nashville’s Tomas Vokoun has given up three or more goals in six of his last seven starts. That’s given more minutes to backup Chris Mason, who stopped 17 shots in his ninth appearance in the last 18 games.
Ouellet, a rookie, was in net for the sixth time this season as OlafKolzig’s backup.
Trotz spent five seasons as head coach of the Capitals’ AHL affiliate before being named Nashville’s coach. He has the longest tenure of any expansion team coach, now at 466 games. … Erat has five assists in his last three games. … The Predators tied a franchise record with their 18th win at home. Only the Detroit Red Wings (43) and Ottawa Senators (43) have earned more points at home than Nashville’s 41. … The Capitals have been outshot in 22 oftheir last 25 games. … Lang has a point in 45 of 57 games.