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Preds Score Four in Third to Complete Thrilling Comeback Over Capitals

Bridgestone Recap: Johansen Tallies Twice, Duchene Scores First as a Predator as Nashville Finishes Homestand Victorious

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Senior Communications & Content Coordinator

Recap: WSH 5, NSH 6

Ekholm, Bonino power Predators to wild 6-5 victory

Nick Bonino tied the game and Mattias Ekholm scored the go-ahead goal in the 3rd to help the Predators beat the Capitals at home, 6-5

  • 05:03 •

Are you not entertained?

The Nashville Predators scored four times in the third period, including Mattias Ekholm's winner with less than five minutes to play, as they came back to beat the Washington Capitals in a 6-5 thriller on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena.

The result gives the Preds a 3-1-0 record to conclude their four-game homestand on the opening week of the season, and although it was only the fourth contest of an 82-game schedule, it's already a leading candidate for game of the season.

"We were just resilient and found a way to win the hockey game," Preds centerman Ryan Johansen said. "Good team, good players, and we made some plays and our character in our room came out. We just kept chipping away and playing our game, we found a way to create some chances and put it in the net."

Matt Duchene got his first goal as a member of the Predators, and Johansen tallied twice - once on the power play - as Nashville's offense went off once more. Through the first four games of the season, the Preds have potted 19 goals, extending a franchise record.

"The way we fought back in the third and showed resilience again in the third shows character on this team," Ekholm said. "Sometimes, that's all you need."

The Capitals got the game's first goal courtesy of Lars Eller. But roughly a minute later, Filip Forsberg continued his dominance against the club that drafted him when he took a feed from Duchene and beat Braden Holtby on a breakaway to even the score at 1-1.

Video: WSH@NSH: Forsberg beats Holtby with nifty move

With his fourth goal in as many games, Forsberg established a Predators franchise record for the longest season-opening goal streak. He eclipsed the previous high of three games, a mark originally set by Steve Sullivan from Oct. 9 to 14, 2010.

Johansen tallied for the Preds in the second stanza when he finished off a 2-on-1 with Viktor Arvidsson, but two power-play markers from Alex Ovechkin, combined with a shorthanded strike from Tom Wilson, gave Washington a 4-2 advantage though 40 minutes.

Early in the third, Johansen got his second of the night - this time on the power play - to pull the Preds back to within one. Later, Forsberg found Duchene streaking toward the cage, and after dishing out his seventh assist of the season earlier in the night, No. 95 one-timed his first in Nashville to tie the game at 4-4.

Video: WSH@NSH: Duchene nets first goal as a Predator

"It felt good," Duchene said of his goal. "It's nice to get that first one out of the way. You know that goals are contagious, and it's nice to see other guys get on the board that haven't been on the board yet."

T.J. Oshie gave the Capitals the lead once more at 10:09 of the third, but that was the last time Washington was on top. Nick Bonino tied the game with his first of the season at 14:52, and 28 seconds later, Ekholm blasted one from the point to give the Predators the first and only lead they needed.

Video: WSH@NSH: Ekholm whacks home go-ahead goal

Thursday also brought about the first Smashville Standing Ovation of the season - rightfully so. One member of the home squad enjoyed it just a bit more than all the others.

"That timeout when everyone was going nuts there, I remember coming into this barn and seeing [the fans] and saying 'oof, they're coming hard at us,' so it was nice to be on the other side of that this time," Duchene said. "It was a great job by the crowd being an extra attacker for us."

The Seventh Man certainly helped to will the Predators to their third victory of the homestand, and as the group now prepares for their first road trip of the season, they can't help but feel a respectable amount of satisfaction in the early going.

"We have one of the most talented defensive corps, offensively and defensively, in the League, and then you look at our forwards," Duchene said. "It doesn't matter what line you look at, any line can be our best line any given night. Everyone has been coming in waves. One line stepped up for some minutes and then another line and another line during this homestand. Leaving here 3-1-0 is huge."

Don't Call It A Comeback:

It was never in doubt.

Down by two goals at the second intermission - and after a period that saw the opposition tally on three occasions - the Predators just had a feeling.

"[Johansen] and I were sitting on the couch during the second period in the [players'] lounge, and we both thought that we were going to win the game," Duchene said. "We just had that feeling. I think that all of us felt that in here, and we talked about it. We didn't feel like we deserved to be down 4-2 going into the third period… Even when we went down 5-4, I still think that we had faith that we were going to come back. It was a team effort tonight, and I think it was our best game of the season."

Video: WSH@NSH: Bonino ties the game off great assist

The hunch proved to be right, and four goals and 20 minutes later, Nashville had completed the comeback in one of their more entertaining outings in recent memory.

Sure, they'd prefer to not give up five in their own end of the ice, but if there's one thing this team has proven through their first four games of 2019-20, it's that have no trouble whatsoever putting the puck in the net.

So, where exactly did that intermission confidence come from?

"It was more than just the way we were playing in the first 40 minutes," Johansen said. "We felt that we were outplaying them 5-on-5, and they had a couple power-play goals to make us pay, but we thought we had the advantage at 5-on-5. We were basically just saying to keep doing our thing and it will work. We'll get some chances, and we'll go score."

Nineteen goals over the course of 12 periods undoubtedly provides a bit of morale, and while the Predators knew they had plenty of offensive capabilities in their locker room to start the season, this has been rather impressive.

"It's just a lot of depth," Johansen said. "You look at who's slotted on our fourth line, they're top-end players. The way our guys have been handling our team and the depth we have, it's been impressive and fun to watch. Everyone is going out there and doing everything they can to be effective we need that, so we look to continue that.

Video: Ekholm, Bonino power Predators to wild 6-5 victory

Notes:

Rocco Grimaldi did not play Thursday and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Daniel Carr made his Predators debut and skated on a line with Kyle Turris and Craig Smith.

Filip Forsberg now has 12 points (7g-5a) in 10 career games against the team that drafted him 11th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft.

Ryan Johansen has tallied more than a point per game against the Capitals in his career, registering 23 points (8g-15a) in 21 career contests. He's now on a four-game point streak versus Washington in which he's posted nine points (4g-5a).

Nashville's first road trip of the season begins Saturday evening in Los Angeles against the Kings (at 5 p.m. CT). The Preds will then head to Vegas and Arizona before returning home next weekend.

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