Sports

Predators' early flurry downs Caps 4-3, clinches playoff berth

  • Nashville Predators center Craig Smith (15) shoots but has his shot stopped by Washington Capitals goalie Justin Peters (35) in the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, March 28, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Nashville Predators center Craig Smith (15) shoots but has his shot stopped by Washington Capitals goalie Justin Peters (35) in the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, March 28, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)  (The Associated Press)

  • Nashville Predators center Mike Ribeiro (63) celebrates his goal in the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Saturday, March 28, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Nashville Predators center Mike Ribeiro (63) celebrates his goal in the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Saturday, March 28, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)  (The Associated Press)

  • Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) goes for the puck, with Nashville Predators defenseman Cody Franson (44) behind him, during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, March 28, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) goes for the puck, with Nashville Predators defenseman Cody Franson (44) behind him, during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, March 28, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)  (The Associated Press)

Filip Forsberg scored during a three-goal first period and had two assists as the Nashville Predators became the first Western Conference team to clinch a playoff berth with a 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals on Saturday.

Mattias Ekholm, Mike Fisher and Forsberg, a first-round pick by Washington in 2012, scored during a 5-minute span midway through the first period for a 3-0 lead. Mike Ribeiro added a goal with an assist by Forsberg after Washington's Troy Brouwer scored twice earlier in the second period.

The Predators have won four straight after losing nine of 11. The Central Division leaders last reached the postseason in 2012 under Barry Trotz, now Washington's head coach.

Washington hold's the East's top wild-card spot, five points ahead of Ottawa and Boston, who were tied for the second and final spot.

Mike Green tallied the Capitals' third goal 20 seconds into the third period.