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Winnik, Kuznetsov help Capitals cool off Predators

Nashville loses in regulation for second time in 18 games

by Katie Brown / NHL.com Correspondent

Winnik finishes Kuznetsov's feed

NSH@WSH: Winnik scores off dish from Kuznetsov

3/18/16: Braden Holtby makes a long pass to Evgeny Kuznetsov, who sets up Daniel Winnik for the game-tying goal midway through the 2nd period

  • 01:00 •

WASHINGTON -- When Evgeny Kuznetsov goes behind the net, his linemates know they have to be ready.

"I don't think you get used to it," said T.J. Oshie, who converted a passout from Kuznetsov into what proved to be the game-winning goal in the Washington Capitals' 4-1 victory against the Nashville Predators at Verizon Center on Friday. "You try to get ready for it. But even when it does come, you kind of think to yourself, 'How'd he just do that?' I'll take them every time."

Kuznetsov finished with three assists and has 53 for the season, tied for second in the NHL. He leads the Capitals and is tied for third in the NHL with 73 points, and his creativity with the puck seems to be endless.

"He sees things that maybe only a handful of players in the League can see," Oshie said. "It's fun. It's nice getting those empty-netters."

Video: NSH@WSH: Winnik nets his second goal of the period

Daniel Winnik had two of Washington's three second-period goals in the Capitals' first multiple-goal game since they defeated the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 on Feb. 16. Andre Burakovsky scored for Washington (51-14-5), and Braden Holtby made 20 saves in his 43rd win of the season.

"It's easier to play your game when you're in control after the first or at least in control of what you're trying to accomplish," Holtby said.

Filip Forsberg scored and backup goalie Carter Hutton made 26 saves for Nashville (36-23-13), which owns the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. The loss was the second regulation loss for the Predators in their past 18 games (11-2-5).

"They were a little better than us tonight, and we couldn't really get anything going offensively," defenseman Shea Weber said.

Video: NSH@WSH: Kuznetsov sets up Oshie with nifty dish

Forsberg scored at 3:30 of the second period to give the Predators a 1-0 lead. He beat Holtby with a wrist shot from the right circle for his 29th goal of the season.

"Our heart was in the right place," said Predators coach Peter Laviolette, whose team was playing the second of a back-to-back after defeating the New York Islanders 4-2 in Nashville on Thursday. "Our legs were a little bit behind, but in the third period, we kept pushing, we kept trying, we never quit. It wasn't our sharpest game, but it's always a little bit more difficult with the travel."

The Capitals have allowed the first goal in six of their past seven games.

Winnik tied the game 1-1 at 7:52. Holtby chipped the puck up ice and Kuznetsov, positioned at the Nashville blue line, fed a slap pass to Winnik, who beat Hutton from the left circle.

Video: NSH@WSH: Burakovsky roofs Kuznetsov's nice pass

Holtby's assist was his first of the season and the eighth of his career.

"It's something we've tried to do in the past, usually at the end of a power play when you're not worried about changing, when you're trying to get it in their zone at the end of the power play," Holtby said of the breakout play. "You know [Kuznetsov's] going to make those reads, so he read it well."

Oshie gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead at 12:22. Kuznetsov sent a no-look backhand pass to Oshie from behind the net, and Oshie beat an out-of-position Hutton for his 22nd of the season, an NHL career-high. He scored 21 in 2013-14 while playing for the St. Louis Blues.

Winnik's second of the game made it 3-1 with 18 seconds remaining. On a 3-on-2 rush, defenseman Dmitry Orlov played the puck up the middle to Winnik, who beat Hutton for his sixth goal of the season.

Video: NSH@WSH: Forsberg nets wrister for power-play goal

"I know Daniel, he's had some good production in the past," coach Barry Trotz said. "When you get in the playoffs and you get those top lines nullifying each other, the difference sometimes are those unsung heroes that you look at their regular-season total and there's not a whole lot of maybe big-time production, but in the playoffs there's been guys that have really upped their game and their production and scored big goals."

Burakovsky scored his 15th of the season 36 seconds into the third period for a 4-1 lead. Kuznetsov passed from behind the goal line and Burakovsky scored from the slot.

"It was strong start to finish," Holtby said of the Capitals' performance. "I thought we did a good job controlling their D and that's a tough thing to do and we feed off it. It was our game plan going in and we executed it."

The Predators begin a four-game homestand Monday against the Los Angeles Kings. The Capitals play at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday.

Video: Kuznetsov, Holtby lead Caps to 4-1 win over Preds

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