Arvidsson scores as Predators buck OT trend to beat Capitals

Predators_Capitals_Hockey_25478 Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9), from Sweden, pursues Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8), from Russia, who skates with the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Washington.
Predators_Capitals_Hockey_39880 Washington Capitals center Lars Eller (20), from Denmark, passes the puck past Nashville Predators right wing PA Parenteau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Washington.
Predators_Capitals_Hockey_82975 Nashville Predators right wing James Neal, center, celebrates his goal with his teammates in the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Washington.
Predators_Capitals_Hockey_46451 Nashville Predators left wing Austin Watson (51) gets pinned against the boards as Predators center Calle Jarnkrok (19), from Sweden, and Washington Capitals center Jay Beagle (83) compete for the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Washington.
Predators_Capitals_Hockey_84865 Washington Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie (77) reaches for the puck as Nashville Predators right wing Craig Smith (15) skates with it, during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Washington.
Predators_Capitals_Hockey_20024 Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9), from Sweden, skates with the puck with Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (19), from Sweden, behind, during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Washington.
Predators_Capitals_Hockey_14604 Washington Capitals right wing Brett Connolly (10) celebrates his goal with his teammates in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators, Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Washington.
Predators_Capitals_Hockey_12362 Nashville Predators left wing Viktor Arvidsson (38), from Sweden, scores past Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (70) in overtime of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Washington. Nashville won 2-1.
Predators_Capitals_Hockey_21383 Nashville Predators right wing James Neal (18) and Washington Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov (9), from Russia, vie for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Washington.
Predators_Capitals_Hockey_17352 Nashville Predators left wing Viktor Arvidsson (38), from Sweden, and center Mike Fisher (12) celebrate after an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Washington. Arvidsson scored the winning goal as Nashville defeated the Washington Capitals 2-1 in overtime.
Predators_Capitals_Hockey_34492 Nashville Predators left wing Cody McLeod (55) checks Washington Capitals defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (22) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Washington.
Predators_Capitals_Hockey_40099 Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, from Finland, catches the puck during the third period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Washington. The game was Rinne's 500th career NHL game. Nashville won 2-1 in overtime.
Predators_Capitals_Hockey_23237 Washington Capitals defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (22) defends as Nashville Predators center Colton Sissons (10) misses a shot past Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (70) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Washington. Nashville won 2-1 in overtime.
Predators_Capitals_Hockey_03178 Nashville Predators left wing Austin Watson (51) and Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) fight during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Washington. Nashville won 2-1 in overtime.
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Two years of overtime struggles didn’t have the Nashville Predators all that concerned.

The Predators got the puck and kept it long enough for Viktor Arvidsson to score 65 seconds into overtime and give them a 2-1 victory over the NHL-leading Washington Capitals on Thursday night. Nashville has won two straight games in overtime, improving to 4-7 in the 3-on-3 session this season and showing signs that struggles in that area may be over.

“That feels nice,” said goaltender Pekka Rinne, who made 22 saves but didn’t face a shot in overtime. “Obviously there’s been a lot of games last couple years that hasn’t gone our way in OT, and winning that game in OT, Arvy putting the puck in the net, that was a huge win.”

Arvidsson’s 25th goal of the season made the Predators 6-19 in overtime over the past two years. Ryan Johansen, who made the pass to set up the 2-on-1, said the struggles have motivated the Predators, who also won Monday in overtime against Winnipeg.

“You want to start finding ways to come on top and what a great way to be able to get results at this time of the year when the points are so crucial,” Johansen said. “It just shows the character in our group and being able to get over some adversity in that situation.”

Nashville has won three in a row and picked up points in five consecutive games, and coach Peter Laviolette said the team has simulated overtime situations to fix a major flaw. The key Thursday night was center Mike Fisher winning the opening faceoff and the Predators possessing the puck for the better part of a minute.

A bad decision on a line change cost the Capitals, who fell to 7-3 in overtime this season.

“We made a mistake there,” said coach Barry Trotz said. “The 3-on-3, if the other team possesses the puck, especially if they’re standing in the neutral zone, you can’t change.”

The Predators are used to those kinds of mistakes after so many overtime losses in the past several months, but players have noticed tangible improvements as the season has gone on.

“It’s about eliminating odd-man rushes,” said Arvidsson, who was thinking shot all the way on the 2-on-1 with P.K. Subban and made it count. “I think we’ve done a better job of that and eliminating scoring chances and taking advantage more of the chances we get.”

The Capitals picked up a point by reaching overtime to pad their lead atop the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference but cost themselves another. Goaltender Braden Holtby, who allowed a goal glove-side to James Neal in the second period, made 22 saves but said he’d like Arvidsson’s goal back.

The tight-checking snoozer of a game that featured only goals by Neal and Washington’s Brett Connolly was coach-approved but not can’t-miss entertainment. Despite that, Rinne said it was a positive for the Predators to win a low-scoring game on the road, especially considering that being stuck behind the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild in the Central Division likely means they’ll open the playoffs next month on the road.

“Going into the playoffs, everybody knows you’ve got to be defensively extremely good, and tonight we showed that we can play against one of the top teams in the league and be really solid defensively and don’t give them a lot,” Rinne said. “I’m sure that gives us confidence moving forward.”

NOTES: Predators F Colin Wilson missed the game because of an undisclosed lower-body injury, and Kevin Fiala replaced him in the lineup. … Capitals D Kevin Shattenkirk returned from a two-game suspension for charging and pushed Nate Schmidt out of the lineup after he scored a goal Tuesday. … Rinne played his 500th NHL game.

UP NEXT

Predators: Try to make it four in a row at the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday in the second leg of a brief, two-game Eastern Conference road trip.

Capitals: Visit the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are trying to mount a late playoff push and could get captain Steven Stamkos back from a long-term knee injury.

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