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Recap: Predators , Capitals
Date: December 20, 2011 7:00 PM EDT
  

WASHINGTON (AP) - It was like old times for the Washington Capitals. Their Big Three - Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom - scored in the same game for the first time since Oct. 30, 2010.

The trio led the Capitals to a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.

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Ovechkin and Backstrom scored first-period goals. Semin scored in the third, and Troy Brouwer added a fourth goal.

``I think we want to dictate our game, and we want to dictate our style and this system, so it was pretty cool,' Ovechkin said.

Washington improved to 5-5 under new coach Dale Hunter. The Capitals are 6-1 in their last seven games against the Predators.

``When your top end guys score the confidence goes up for the rest of the bench,' Hunter said. ``The big guys scored.'

Michal Neuvirth stopped 20 shots for the Capitals. Starting a third straight game for the first time this season, Neuvirth, who shut out Winnipeg on Thursday, has allowed three goals in that span.

``He's been solid,' Brouwer said. ``He makes it easy for us to play in front of him. We know if we do make a mistake he's going to be there for us.'

Nashville lost for the first time in six games, and for the first time in 11 contests, had a game decided by more than one goal. The quirky 10-game streak was two shy of an NHL record, according to STATS LLC.

The Capitals grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first period. Ovechkin scored just his fourth goal in 18 games when he took a pass from Karl Alzner at the blue line, and in a blur, cleanly beat goalie Anders Lindback at 7:42 for his 11th goal of the season.

``It doesn't matter if Ovie scores, or anyone scores, the team is going right away. It all started with a good first shift,' Brouwer said.

Backstrom netted his 12th at 15:51. He carried the puck behind the net, skated in front, and slammed a shot past Lindback. Washington dominated play in the first, jumping out to a 10-1 edge in shots.

The two-goal outburst in the period was a welcomed change for the Capitals, who had scored only goal in each of their previous three games.

``I liked the first period more than anything,' Hunter said. ``We should have scored more.'

The Predators' Sergei Kostitsyn broke Neuvirth's shutout bid 4:40 into the third period with his fifth goal.

``We didn't give enough run support for Lindy,' Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. ``When it was 2-1, we had lots of chances to tie it up, and we didn't.'

Semin's seventh of the season made it 3-1 midway through the third and marked the first time this season he has scored in consecutive games.

``I told him after the second period, he has to shoot more,' Neuvirth said.

Brouwer pushed the lead to 4-1 at 13:46.

NOTES: Capitals RW Mike Knuble played in his 1,000th NHL game. The team honored him in a pregame ceremony, and each of his teammates wore a jersey with his No. 22 during warmups. ... The Predators recalled D Jonathon Blum and LW Blake Geoffrion from Milwaukee of the AHL. ... Nashville D Kevin Klein didn't make the trip because of flu. ... Washington D John Erskine was a healthy scratch. ... Capitals C Marcus Johansson assisted on the last two goals.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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