Preds rally past Caps, spoil Trotz's return

Nashville, TN ( - Barry Trotz received a warm welcome back from the Bridgestone Arena crowd in his return to Nashville. His former team didn't quite return the generosity, however.

James Neal scored his second goal of the night with 1:40 remaining, capping a furious late comeback from the Predators that produced a 4-3 triumph over Trotz's Washington Capitals.

Nashville overcame a 3-2 deficit by scoring twice in the final 4 1/2 minutes, with Mattias Ekholm netting the equalizer on a power play to help the Predators to their first five-game win streak in three years.

"I felt like we stuck with it throughout the night," Neal said. "We responded every time we gave something up. I loved the way the guys battled back at the end."

Trotz was behind the bench for that run, as well as many others while serving as the Predators' head coach for the franchise's first 15 seasons of existence. That tenure came to an end when he was fired at the conclusion of the 2013-14 campaign, shortly before taking over in Washington.

Seth Jones added a goal and an assist for Nashville, while Carter Hutton came up with 31 saves in his first start since the Predators announced standout goaltender Pekka Rinne would miss 3-to-5 weeks with a sprained knee.

Alex Ovechkin notched a pair of goals in the loss, which halted a stretch of 10 straight games of recording at least one point for the Caps. Braden Holtby finished with 26 saves.

"We wanted to win for (Trotz)," Ovechkin said. "We had the lead, but didn't finish it up."

Marcus Johansson's power-play tally 2:38 into the third period gave Washington a 3-2 edge, but a costly tripping penalty to Capitals defenseman John Carlson with 5:14 remaining enabled Nashville to draw back even.

Ekholm fired a wrister past Holtby's glove hand on the resulting 5-on-4 to even the contest, and Neal made Washington pay for a defensive miscue in its own end less than three minutes later.

Neal intercepted a clearing attempt by the Caps' Matt Niskanen before slipping the puck between Holtby's pads while in all alone for the eventual game- winner.

Trotz took several bows to the home crowd after receiving a standing ovation as a video tribute aired during the game's first timeout, though his new team trailed 2-0 early in the second period before battling back to take the lead.

Jones registered the game's first goal with a long wrist shot that got through traffic with 3:44 left in the opening period, and Neal made it a 2-0 Nashville lead just 1:50 into the second.

The Predators' Victor Bartley threw the puck toward the Washington net to set up the second goal, with Mike Fisher steering the pass right to an uncovered Neal for a tap-in into an open right side.

Ovechkin quickly brought the Capitals back, however, by scoring twice within a span of just over 2 1/2 minutes later in the period.

The star sniper rifled in a bad-angle attempt from the left of the Nashville net off a Karl Alzner give with 3:46 elapsed in the second. Ovechkin struck again 6:18 in with Ekholm in the box for a tripping call, one-timing a feed from Mike Green past Hutton to knot the score at 2-2.

Game Notes

Washington had gone 7-0-2 over its previous nine games, while Nashville improved to 8-0-2 in its last 10 ... Nashville's last five-game win streak took place from Jan. 19-31, 2012 ... The Predators set a new franchise record by recording their 30th win in their 43rd game of the season, bettering the mark of 44 games set by Trotz's 2006-07 squad ... Ovechkin has scored eight goals in his last nine outings ... Green finished with two assists ... Washington went 2-of-3 on the power play while the Preds ended 1-of-4.