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Predators at Capitals preview

Nashville can clinch Presidents' Trophy, conference, division; Ovechkin in lineup for Washington

by Brian McNally / Correspondent

PREDATORS (51-18-11) at CAPITALS (48-25-7)



The Game

The Nashville Predators can clinch the Central Division and Western Conference, and possibly the Presidents' Trophy, with a win against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on Thursday. 

The Predators lead the NHL with 113 points, three ahead of the Winnipeg Jets with two games remaining. Nashville would clinch the division and conference with a win of any kind. 

Nashville, 3-4-1 in its past eight games after its team-record 15-game point streak (14-0-1), also can win the Central Division with one point against the Capitals if the Jets lose to the Calgary Flames in any fashion, or if the Jets lose in regulation.

The Predators also can clinch the conference if they get one point against Washington and the Jets lose in any fashion, or if Winnipeg loses to Calgary in regulation and the Vegas Golden Knights lose to the Edmonton Oilers in any fashion. 

Nashville would secure the Presidents' Trophy for most points in the League with a win and a regulation loss by the Boston Bruins to the Florida Panthers.  

A win by the Predators would give them 52 victories, the most in one season in their history; Nashville also won 51 games in 2006-07. 

The Capitals, 11-2-0 in their past 13 games, have clinched first place in the Metropolitan Division. Center Alex Ovechkin, who did not practice Wednesday, will be in the lineup.


Players to watch

Predators forward Filip Forsberg has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in his past nine games.  

Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom has 11 points (one goal, 10 assists) in his past six games.


They said it

"It was there last game, too, and we didn't talk about it. When we talk about those things we talk about home ice. That's what's important to us." -- Predators coach Peter Laviolette on possibly clinching the Presidents' Trophy 

"He stayed off, and that's why lineup-wise, we weren't sure what we were going to do until today once he feels 100 percent. So we're putting him in." -- Capitals coach Barry Trotz on center Alex Ovechkin


Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson

Kevin Fiala -- Kyle Turris -- Craig Smith

Colton Sissons -- Nick Bonino -- Ryan Hartman

Miikka Salomaki -- Mike Fisher -- Austin Watson

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Alexei Emelin -- Matt Irwin

Juuse Saros

Pekka Rinne

Scratched: Anthony Bitetto, Scott Hartnell, Eeli Tolvanen

Injured: Yannick Weber (upper body), Calle Jarnkrok (upper body)


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Tom Wilson

Andre Burakovsky -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie

Brett Connolly -- Lars Eller -- Devante Smith-Pelly

Chandler Stephenson -- Travis Boyd -- Alex Chiasson

Dmitry Orlov -- Matt Niskanen

Michal Kempny -- John Carlson

Brooks Orpik -- Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Jakub Jerabek, Shane Gersich, Madison Bowey, Brian Pinho, Jakub Vrana

Injured: Jay Beagle (upper body)


Status report

Tolvanen will sit after playing in his first three NHL games. … Saros will make his fourth start in seven games. … Beagle will miss his second straight game.


Stat pack

At 5-on-5 the Nashville line of Forsberg, Johansen and Arvidsson has outscored opponents 31-15. … Niskanen will play in his 800th NHL game.

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