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National Hockey League

Sliding Preds battle Caps in DC

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Nashville Predators will try to avoid a fifth consecutive loss when they visit the Washington Capitals for Saturday's battle at the Verizon Center.

The Predators have matched a season-worst losing streak with their current 0-3-1 funk, tying the club's 0-4-0 skid from Nov. 8-15. Another setback on Saturday would give Nashville its worst losing streak since dropping eight straight from April 4-19 of last season.

Nashville's last two losses came in regulation and Barry Trotz's club was handed a 5-2 defeat by visiting Carolina on Thursday. Jeff Skinner scored his first career hat trick to lift the Hurricanes to the lopsided win at Bridgestone Arena.

The Preds led the contest 2-1 in the early stages of the second period, but couldn't finish off Carolina. The Hurricanes scored four unanswered goals to end the game, including three in under 13 minutes in the second period after the Predators had taken the 2-1 lead with two goals in the first 2:41 of the frame.

"Their top guys were good tonight, and we didn't have a match for them," Trotz said. "Some of our top guys weren't on today. I think our core wasn't as strong."

Mike Fisher and Viktor Stalberg scored for the Predators. Marek Mazanec allowed four goals on 13 shots in the first two periods and Carter Hutton made nine saves in the third.

Nashville played its third straight game without star defenseman Shea Weber, who has been out with an eye injury since getting hit with a puck on Nov. 28. Weber returned to practice on Friday and is making the trip to D.C. He is expected to be a game-time decision tonight.

The Predators went winless during their recent four-game homestand, but they can extend a three-game road winning streak on Saturday. Nashville, which will complete a brief two-game swing with Tuesday's test against the New York Rangers, is 7-7-1 on the road this season.

Washington will try to get back on track Saturday after having a two-game winning streak halted with Tuesday's 4-1 loss against the Hurricanes. Skinner had two goals and an assist in the win for Carolina.

Mike Green scored the lone goal for the Capitals, who lost for the fifth time in seven games. It was the first goal of the season for Green, a defenseman who once scored 31 goals for Washington during the 2008-09 campaign.

"You know as a smaller subplot it's obviously good for him," Capitals coach Adam Oates said of Green's goal. "It's obviously been something that we've talked about a lot. Now the zero is gone, so hopefully it leads to more."

Braden Holtby turned aside 19-of-23 shots over two periods before being pulled in favor of Philipp Grubauer, who made nine saves in the third frame. Neither Holtby nor Grubauer has ever faced the Predators.

The Caps played their third straight game without forward Brooks Laich, who is dealing with a groin injury at the moment. He is expected to sit out a fourth consecutive tilt on Saturday.

Washington is playing on back-to-back days this weekend and will visit the Rangers on Sunday.

The Capitals have taken six of the past seven meetings with the Predators, although four of Washington's victories during that span have come after regulation.

Nashville is 2-4-2 in its eight all-time trips to D.C.

12/07 10:40:57 ET

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