A typically quick start wasn't enough for the Caps on Saturday afternoon in Nashville. Despite grabbing a 1-0 lead in the second minute of the game, the Capitals came out on the short end of a 5-2 score against the Predators.
Playing their second game in less than 24 hours and their third in less than 72 hours - and playing without four regular players - the Caps were somewhat flat, especially after the first period. Nashville struck for three goals in the middle period to erase that early Washington advantage, and the Preds took a two-goal cushion into the third.
Video: Caps' players discuss the 5-2 loss in Nashville
"We talked about it before the second, that they score a lot of goals in the second period," says Caps center Lars Eller. "But I think we made a couple of turnovers, and they capitalized on those chances. It was a little bit of our own fault, so it's mistakes that are easily fixed going forward, so that's a good thing."
Alex Ovechkin scored early in the third period to seemingly shave the Nashville advantage to 3-2, but the goal was wiped off the board when the Preds issued a coach's challenge and subsequent video review showed that Ovechkin was offside on the play.
That left the Caps still down by a pair, and the margin grew to three several minutes later when Dmitry Orlov was boxed for a phantom holding call in the neutral zone. Three seconds after Orlov was seated, Nashville blueliner Roman Josi pounded home his second goal of the game to give the Preds a 4-1 lead.
A late Evgeny Kuznetsov marker gave the Capitals some life, but Nashville scored into an empty Washington net to account for the 5-2 final.
Throughout much of the third period, Caps coach Barry Trotz toyed with his line combinations and defensive pairings, partially because he was seeking a spark and partially because he was looking to send a message to some players. After the game, Trotz estimated that only five of his forwards and three of his defensemen were "going."
Video: Trotz talks after a 5-2 loss against the Predators
"For some guys, it was a little bit of a message that we need you to be better," says Trotz. "And for some - the guys who were going - I was just trying to supplement them with other guys and see if we could change our fortunes a little bit, because we needed to either draw a timely penalty or something to get back in.
"If we would have scored to get it to 3-2, I think we would have had a real good push at the end against them. But it didn't happen."
Secondary Stuff - Caps right wing Tom Wilson scored his second goal in as many days, and for the second time in as many days, it was the game's first goal.
The Capitals have now scored the game's first goal in 44 of 61 games this season, and bottom six forwards have supplied the game's first goal for Washington on 19 occasions in 2016-17.
Throughout the entirety of the 2015-16 season, all Caps forwards outside the top six combined to score 62 goals in 82 games. Thus far this season, Washington has received 61 goals in 61 games from forwards outside its top six.
Three Down - Saturday's three-goal loss to the Predators marks just the sixth time in 61 games this season that Washington has lost by as many as three goals. Four of those losses came in the Caps' first 22 games of the season; Saturday's setback was the second of its kind in Washington's last 39 contests.
Both of those three-goal losses in the Caps' last 39 games came in the back end of back-to-back games, too. Washington is now 5-6-1 in the second half of back-to-backs, accounting for more than a third of its season total of 20 losses in such situations.
Video: Caps' players discuss the 5-2 loss in Nashville
Special Teams Deficit - Washington had only a single power-play opportunity and it came early in the game, just a few minutes after Wilson's goal. The Caps did not score on that lone extra-man chance, and they were blanked in just two opportunities on Friday against Edmonton, leaving them without a power-play goal in consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 5-7.
The Caps were nicked for a pair of power-play goals against for just the fifth time this season on Saturday against the Preds, and that's the first time in those five games that Washington failed to score a power-play goal of its own, leaving the Caps at minus-2 in the special teams column for the game. The Capitals are 3-2 in the five games in which they've surrendered two power-play goals against.
The 900 Club - Caps captain Alex Ovechkin skated in the 900th game of his NHL career on Saturday in Nashville. He is the fourth player in franchise history to reach that level, joining Calle Johansson (983), Peter Bondra (961) and Kelly Miller (940).
Ten Spot - Caps defenseman John Carlson pounded a single-game career high 10 shots on net in Saturday's game, and nine of those shots on goal came at even strength. Carlson also led Washington with 25:59 in ice time and 13 shot attempts in the game.
Down On The Farm - The AHL Hershey Bears hosted the Toronto Marlies at Giant Center on Saturday, and the Bears skated off with a 4-3 come-from-behind victory.
Christian Thomas staked the Bears to a 1-0 lead at 9:09 of the first period with an unassisted goal, his 19th of the season. The Marlies struck for three goals in the first half of the second period to take a 3-1 lead, but Chris Bourque's power-play goal at 13:48 of the middle stanza cut the Toronto lead to 3-2. Christian Djoos and Paul Carey assisted on Bourque's goal, his 16th of the season.
Just over three minutes later, Hershey tied the game at 3-3 on Darren Dietz's sixth goal of the season, Chris Bourque and Chandler Stephenson assisting.
Hershey's Liam O'Brien scored the game-winner - his eighth of the season - on a power play at 16:57 of the third, getting help from Djoos and Colby Williams.
Joe Cannata stopped 22 of 25 shots in the Hershey nets to improve to 11-5-4 on the season.
Hershey finishes off a busy three-in-three weekend on Sunday afternoon against the Sound Tigers in Bridgeport.
Down a level, the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays earned a 4-1 road win over the Rapid City Rush on Saturday. Domenic Monardo scored twice and Steven McParland and Colton Saucerman added single tallies in support of Steven Summerhays' 22-save efforts in the South Carolina crease.
The same two teams tangle again on Sunday in South Dakota.
By The Numbers - Wilson led the Caps with five hits … Karl Alzner and Aaron Ness each blocked two shots to lead the Capitals … Jay Beagle won seven of 11 face-offs (64%).