NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — James Neal scored twice, including the go-ahead goal with 1:40 left, and the Predators spoiled coach Barry Trotz’s return to Nashville by beating the Washington Capitals 4-3 on Friday night for their fifth straight victory.
Seth Jones and Mattias Ekholm had the other goals for the Predators, who fired Trotz at the end of last season. Trotz was the team’s inaugural coach, leading Nashville through its first 15 NHL seasons before taking the job in Washington.
Alex Ovechkin scored twice and Marcus Johansson also had a goal for the Capitals, who had won three in a row.
Late in the third period, Neal forced a turnover by Matt Niskanen inside the Capitals blue line. Neal then walked in and slipped a shot between the pads of goalie Braden Holtby to give Nashville a 4-3 lead.
Jones scored the game’s first goal at 16:16 of the opening period.
In the right circle, Calle Jarnkrok won a faceoff against Evgeny Kuznetsov back to Jones at the blue line. Jones moved slightly to his left before snapping a wrist shot through traffic that beat Holtby on the glove side.
Neal struck at 1:50 of the second from right in front of Holtby off a shot that originated from Victor Bartley and then was deflected by Mike Fisher.
Ovechkin then scored a pair of goals 2:32 apart, with both coming from the left side.
He scored at 3:46 on a one-timer from a tough angle at the lower part of the left circle off a pass from defenseman Karl Alzner.
The Washington captain followed at 6:18 with a power-play goal that beat Nashville goalie Carter Hutton on the short side.
Ovechkin has eight goals in his last nine games.
Johansson’s tally at 2:38 of the third gave Washington its second power-play goal of the game.
Ekholm tied it at 15:31 with a one-timer from the top of the right circle on a late Nashville power play.
Hutton made his first home start of the season, replacing Pekka Rinne, the NHL leader in wins with 29. Rinne sprained his knee in Tuesday’s win against Vancouver and is expected to miss three to five weeks.
NOTES: Fisher has points in five consecutive games. . Washington is 1-11-5 when its opponent scores first this season.
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