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Predators at Capitals preview

Nashville looks to defeat Washington for eighth straight time; Ovechkin seeks another hat trick

by Harvey Valentine / Independent Correspondent

PREDATORS (22-19-7) at CAPITALS (34-11-5)

7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN


The Game

Alex Ovechkin can become the first player in NHL history with a hat trick in three straight appearances when he returns from a one-game suspension for the Washington Capitals against the Nashville Predators at Capital One Arena on Wednesday.

Ovechkin, who was suspended for missing the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis, has eight goals in his past three games, including hat tricks in each of his past two games. He needs one goal to pass Steve Yzerman (692) for sole possession of ninth place on the NHL all-time list and two goals to tie Mark Messier (694) for eighth place.

Washington, which defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 on Monday without Ovechkin, has won four straight games and is 7-2-0 in its past nine games.

The Predators have won seven straight games against the Capitals since a 4-1 loss March 18, 2016.

Nashville is 4-7-1 in its past 12 games after going 6-2-2 in its previous 10.


Players to watch 

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

Capitals forward Jakub Vrana has 11 points (eight goals, three assists) in a nine-game point streak, tying the longest streak by a Washington player this season (Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson each Oct. 8-24).


They said it

"It's going to be a great matchup for us. Washington is a deep team. They're very good, big, fast. They have superstars. Their special teams are very good. So, we're excited for it. You have to be at your best if you're going to beat them." -- Predators coach John Hynes

"They're playing a little bit differently [since their coaching change] and they're still a really dangerous team. Good goaltending and really active defense. A guy like (defenseman Roman) Josi is a big factor for their team. It'll be a tough game against a team that definitely needs to gather points as they're making a late push here for the playoffs." -- Capitals coach Todd Reirden 


Predators projected lineup

Calle Jarnkrok -- Ryan Johansen -- Austin Watson

Filip Forsberg -- Matt Duchene -- Mikael Granlund

Rocco Grimaldi -- Nick Bonino -- Viktor Arvidsson

Colin Blackwell -- Kyle Turris -- Craig Smith

Roman Josi -- Yannick Weber

Mattias Ekholm -- Dante Fabbro

Dan Hamhuis -- Jarred Tinordi

Juuse Saros

Pekka Rinne

Scratched: Yakov Trenin, Matt Irwin

Injured: Ryan Ellis (upper body), Colton Sissons (lower body)


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- Tom Wilson

Jakub Vrana -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- T.J. Oshie

Carl Hagelin -- Lars Eller - Richard Panik

Brendan Leipsic -- Nic Dowd -- Garnet Hathaway

Michal Kempny -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Nick Jensen

Jonas Siegenthaler -- Radko Gudas

Braden Holtby

Ilya Samsonov

Scratched: Travis Boyd

Injured: None


Status report

The Predators did not hold a morning skate. Sissons, a forward who has missed 11 games, skated Wednesday and Hynes said he could return against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday. … Holtby will make his second straight start. 


Stat pack

Duchene has 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in his past 13 games. … Smith has scored nine goals in his past 16 games. … The Capitals' 73 points through 50 games is their second highest total through as many games in a single season (37-9-4, 78 points, 2015-16).

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