WASHINGTON (AP) — Evgeny Kuznetsov scored a late short-handed goal in his return from an 18-day absence to put the Washington Capitals ahead for good in a 5-3 victory over the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night.
Kuznetsov’s crafty wrist shot from a tight angle helped the Capitals beat the Predators for the first time in nine games, a streak dating to 2017.
It was his 10th of the season and his first since he was reactivated from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol earlier Wednesday.
John Carlson also scored and had three assists for Washington, which stormed to a 3-0 lead in the first period before giving it all back inside the opening eight minutes of the second.
Lars Eller and Nic Dowd added early goals as the Capitals moved two points in front of Carolina into sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division.
Carl Hagelin added a late empty-net goal and an assist. Dmitry Orlov had two assists.
Ilya Samsonov made 17 saves in the Capitals’ first game in 10 days, in both teams’ return from the NHL’s recent pause due to COVID-19 issues.
Filip Forsberg scored his team-leading 14th goal to complete the Predators’ second-period rally.
Yakov Trenin and and Luke Kunin also scored for Nashville, which lost for the first time in eight games in their return from a 10-day layoff.
Dante Fabbro picked up his seventh and eighth assists, and Juuse Saros made 32 saves as Nashville missed a chance to move into first in the Central Division.
But after Nashville successfully killed Washington’s first six power plays, Kuznetsov turned the game with a moment of individual brilliance.
The center had the puck behind the goal and appeared to be looking for pass. Instead, he skated left and found space to send his shot between Saros’ Blocker and the roof of the net.
The play was briefly reviewed to see if the goal had come unmoored prior to Kuznetsov scoring, but the goal stood.
Predators: Recalled RW Mathieu Olivier from the taxi squad and reassigned RW Cody Glass to AHL Milwaukee. … Forsberg’s goal was his eighth in 12 career games against Washington, which drafted him 11th overall in 2012.
Capitals: C Nicklas Backstrom, and Oshie also returned from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols and RW Tom Wilson returned from injured reserve. … D Alex Alexeyev made his NHL debut after being recalled from the taxi squad.
Predators: At Columbus on Thursday night.
Capitals: At Detroit on Friday night.
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Ian Nicholas Quillen, The Associated Press