WASHINGTON -- Nashville Predators coach Peter Laviolette was happy his team clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and did it on the ice by beating the Washington Capitals 4-3 Saturday at Verizon Center.
"Everybody in our division wins every night," Laviolette said of the Central Division. "We've got to keep winning, we've got to keep playing. The guys played hard all year and put ourselves in a position to clinch at this point in the season. To earn that -- sometimes you get in, you don't even play; somebody loses, and you get in."
"I always think it's a little bit more meaningful when you earn the win and you earn the two points and the right to get in," Laviolette said.
"That's obviously what you strive for all year, is to be able to put yourself in the position like that and get into the playoffs," defenseman Cody Franson said. "Obviously we've put ourselves in a good position."
Forsberg led the Predators with three points against the Capitals. He was selected by Washington with the 11th pick in the 2012 NHL Draft but never got a chance to play a game for the team before he was traded to Nashville.
"It's always fun to help the team and contribute to the team's win, and it's a little extra special coming here and playing for the first time," Forsberg said. "But it was a really good team effort, and I'm really happy to go out here with two points."
"They capitalized on the chances that we gave them," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "I thought [Holtby] would probably say he needs to be a little sharper there. When we weren't executing, you need a couple big saves."
The Capitals, who hold the first wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference, missed an opportunity to gain ground on the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators, who are nipping at their heels.
"I've seen teams squeeze their way in at the end of the season, I've seen teams fall out of the playoffs at the end of the season," Brouwer said. "Maybe because they thought they were in and they were kind of just cruising into the playoffs. But we've got teams behind us."
Ekholm scored at 9:02 of the first period to give the Predators a 1-0 lead. After his hooking penalty expired, Ekholm exited the penalty box and beat Green one-on-one before scoring past Holtby for his seventh goal.
Fisher scored his 18th goal at 11:29. He capitalized on a Forsberg rebound at the hash marks and sent a wrist shot behind Holtby.
Forsberg scored his 23rd goal of the season with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle at 14:47 of the first period, giving the Predators a 3-0 lead and chasing Holtby.
Brouwer scored twice in a span of 7:13 in the second period. He snapped a 12-game goal drought dating back to Feb. 25 with a goal 19 seconds in, then scored shorthanded at 7:32 to make it 3-2.
The goals gave Brouwer 20 this season, marking his third 20-goal season in the NHL.
"He's had some good chances and I knew he's getting a little bit frustrated," Trotz said. "From that standpoint it was good that he got a couple goals. He's at 20 goals and that's pretty good in this League."
Ribeiro tipped a Forsberg shot for his 15th goal to give the Predators a 4-2 lead at 11:56 of the second. Ribeiro, who played the 2012-13 season for Washington, leads Nashville in scoring with 59 points this season.
"We got out to that lead, and we knew the game was far from over," Franson said. "They're a team that's very capable in a lot of ways, and we knew we had to keep our foot on the gas and try and play as little in our own end as possible, and that's what we tried to execute."
Green buried a cross-ice pass from defense partner Matt Niskanen 20 seconds into the third period for his seventh goal to bring the Capitals back within one.
Washington plays at the New York Rangers on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, TVA Sports, CSN-DC, MSG).
Predators defenseman Shea Weber missed his first game of the season with a lower-body injury. Laviolette said the captain was day-to-day but didn't say if Weber would play Sunday against the Calgary Flames (5 p.m. ET; SNW, FS-TN).