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Askarov gets first NHL win as Predators beat Capitals in a shootout

Nashville Predators Celebrate Nashville Predators Celebrate - Getty Images

WASHINGTON (AP) — While the Nashville Predators were celebrating a 3-2 shootout victory that ended their three-game losing streak, Juuse Saros skated over to retrieve the puck for fellow goaltender Yaroslav Askarov.

This was an important game for the Predators, and they found even more joy in the victory because it was Askarov's first win in the NHL. The 21-year-old who is considered the franchise's long-term future at the position was all smiles after making 26 saves in regulation and overtime and two more in the shootout — against fellow Russians Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin.

“It’s the best," Askarov said. “It’s the best feeling.”

The winning feeling was back for the Predators, who got goals from Luke Evangelista and Roman Josi in the first seven minutes and then from Gustav Nyquist and Ryan O'Reilly in the shootout. They were fresh off an OT loss to Detroit that was worth a point in the standings, but nothing replaces celebrating a victory.

"We were on a little slide there," Evangelista said. “It was nice to end the little skid that we had going there. We knew we were capable of better.”

Nashville got better, thanks in part to Josi scoring his 166th goal to tie Shea Weber for the most by a defenseman in club history.

Askarov won his second start and third appearance despite becoming the 171st goaltender Ovechkin has scored on. Ovechkin blasted a one-timer past his fellow Russian for his 829th goal, which puts him 65 back of Wayne Gretzky's career record.

Ovechkin looked to have scored with a minute left in regulation, but his would-be 830th goal was wiped out by goaltender interference on Nic Dowd. The league's situation room ruled Dowd impeded Askarov from being able to stop the puck.

“It’s obviously frustrating,” Capitals forward Beck Malenstyn said. “You want those to go and you’re celebrating, you feel like you got it and it gets swept away from you. But their job is to make those decisions and don’t always have to agree with them.”

Malenstyn also scored for Washington, which has lost four in a row and remains one of the worst offensive teams in the league. Hunter Shepard made 33 saves in regulation and OT after getting called up from the minors in light of Charlie Lindgren being injured Friday on Long Island.

Coach Spencer Carbery said the Capitals received good news that Lindgren's upper-body injury is not as bad as feared. He also hopes to get injured wingers T.J. Oshie and Sonny Milano back as soon as next week, which also could bring the season debut of free agent addition Max Pacioretty, who's returning from re-tearing his right Achilles tendon.

One reinforcement has already arrived. After Martin Fehervary left the Islanders game with a potentially long-term injury, Ethan Bear played his first game in a Washington uniform against Nashville. Bear joined the team for practice this month and signed his contract Friday after working his way back from shoulder surgery.


Predators: Host Chicago on Tuesday.

Capitals: Visit Pittsburgh on Tuesday.