WASHINGTON (AP) — The Nashville Predators entered the final game of 2018 with their longest losing streak in more than five years.
The Predators broke the skid with a needed offensive outburst.
Nashville’s 6-3 win over the Washington Capitals on Monday ended a six-game slide, the Predators’ longest since April 4-19, 2013.
Ryan Johansen had a goal and two assists, Viktor Arvidsson and Rocco Grimaldi each added a goal as Nashville scored five unanswered goals.
The loss broke Washington’s four-game winning streak. They had won 16 of 19.
“We didn’t really like 2018 that much,” Johansen said. “Today we just wanted to focus on finishing on a good note, leaving it behind us and focus on 2019. That’s what we’re going to do.”
Predators coach Peter Laviolette had seen his team start the season strongly until the recent skid, and he felt this offensive outburst would come.
“Coming from behind a couple of times, down by two goals, also a good thing,” Laviolette said. “On the road, a good thing — certainly against a good team, lots of positives.”
Laviolette, a veteran of 17 seasons as an NHL coach, was patient with his team.
“I always say that there’s something that’s going to go wrong through the course of the year,” Laviolette said. “We lost the last (six) games. I wasn’t disappointed with the way we played. I was just disappointed with the result.”
The Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin has been stuck on 29 goals for the past six games, his longest streak without a goal since Nov. 10-20, 2017.
“It’s the end of the year, you know?” Ovechkin said. “Tomorrow is going to be a new day, a new year and new hockey.”
Johansen’s seventh goal of the season beat Braden Holtby to tie the score at 3 as the Predators scored three goals in 4:33 to take a 4-3 lead.
Pekka Rinne stopped 22 shots for the Predators.
Holtby stopped 28 shots.
Michal Kempny opened the scoring with his fourth goal of the season at 4:33 of the first. The Capitals took a 2-0 lead four minutes later on Jakub Vruna’s 12th goal, which was followed 23 seconds later by Grimaldi’s second goal of the season, which cut the advantage to 3-1.
Washington took a 3-1 lead on Chandler Stephenson’s fifth goal at 8:22 of the second period. Holtby started the rush with a long outlet pass to Devante Smith-Pelly.
The Predators got within 3-2 on Miikka Salomaki’s third goal of the season midway through the second period. Nashville tied it at 3 on Johansen’s goal.
Frederick Gaudreau’s third goal of the season at 14:30 put the Predators ahead 4-3.
Ryan Ellis’ fourth goal at 11:35 in the third gave Nashville a 5-3 lead and Arvidsson’s ninth goal with two minutes remaining made it 6-3.
“It was a great win by our team, especially going down 3-1,” Grimaldi said
“We could have hung our heads and thought, ‘oh it’s one of those games again. We just can’t get out of the slump’ but the boys stuck together. I think every line chipped in and we had a huge win against the Stanley Cup champs.”
NOTES: Grimaldi and Salomaki hadn’t scored since Nov. 1. ... Holtby received an assist on Stephenson’s goal, his second of the season and the 10th of his nine-season career. ... Capitals D Brooks Orpik returned after missing 26 games with right knee surgery. ... Washington sent D Tyler Lewington to Hershey (AHL) two days after he scored a goal, received an assist and got in a fight in his second NHL game. ... Nashville recalled F Nicholas Baptiste from Milwaukee (AHL), but he was a healthy scratch.
Predators: Host Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday
Capitals: Visit St. Louis Blues on Thursday