NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — In a game dominated by offense, a defenseman scored the game-winner.
Mattias Ekholm scored with 4:40 remaining to cap a wild third period and lead the Nashville Predators to a 6-5 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night.
Ryan Johansen scored twice and Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene and Nick Bonino added goals for Nashville, which finished 3-1 on a season-opening, four-game homestand.
Alex Ovechkin scored a pair of power-play goals and Lars Eller, Tom Wilson and T.J. Oshie also scored for Washington. John Carlson had three assists for the Capitals, who lost in regulation for the first time this season.
“There’s too many turnovers that are ending up as good scoring chances for one, and then for two, that are ending up in our net,” Washington coach Todd Reirden said.
Ekholm netted the winner on a slap shot from the middle of the blue line through traffic 28 seconds after Bonino tied the game at 5.
“I saw the guy go down in front of me and that I kind of had a little lane,” Ekholm said. “When I saw it went by him, I thought it was going to have a good chance of going in. There were a lot of bodies in front. Nice feeling to see it go in.”
Nashville trailed by two entering the third.
“Going into the third period, I don’t think there was any thought that we couldn’t win a hockey game. We just had to go out and do the right things,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. “Guys certainly played well enough to do it.”
Ovechkin’s goals were scored in nearly identical fashion coming from the left circle, a familiar spot for the Russian winger on the Washington power play.
His first came at 4:46 of the second from the top of the left circle. Ovechkin took a pass from Carlson and beat Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne with a one-timer, his first career goal against Rinne.
“It’s a hard loss,” Ovechkin said. “I think we deserved at least a point.”
Rinne finished made 21 saves.
Late in the second, Ovechkin struck again off a feed from Carlson.
Eller scored the game’s first goal at 9:17 of the opening period and Forsberg tied it 1:22 later.
From the left side just inside the blue line, Duchene slipped a pass to Forsberg skating through the slot, sending him in alone against Washington goaltender Braden Holtby. Forsberg made a quick move before lifting a wrist shot over the fallen goaltender.
Holtby finished with 32 saves.
Forsberg, originally a Capitals draft pick, has a goal in each of Nashville’s first four games, the first player in Predators history to do so.
“It is a little special, I’m not going to lie,” Forsberg said of playing against the Capitals. “Obviously nothing is really the same, management and stuff like that. It’s fun. It’s a lot of fun.”
Johansen tied it again at 7:37 of the second, but Washington went ahead 3-2 at 12:28 on Wilson’s short-handed goal.
Notes: Rinne is 6-1-0 in his career against Washington. … Nashville RW Rocco Grimaldi missed his first game of the season due to a lower-body injury. … Capitals C Nicklas Backstrom played his 900th career NHL game. … Ovechkin has now scored against 135 different goaltenders in his NHL career.
Capitals: Visit Dallas Stars Saturday.
Predators: Visit Los Angeles Kings Saturday.