Filip Forsberg scored during a three-goal first period and had two assists as the Nashville Predators became the first Western Conference team to clinch a playoff berth with a 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals on Saturday.
Mattias Ekholm, Mike Fisher and Forsberg, a first-round pick by Washington in 2012, scored during a 5-minute span midway through the first period for a 3-0 lead. Mike Ribeiro added a goal with an assist by Forsberg after Washington's Troy Brouwer scored twice earlier in the second period.
The Predators have won four straight after losing nine of 11. The Central Division leaders last reached the postseason in 2012 under Barry Trotz, now Washington's head coach.
Washington holds the East's top wild-card spot, five points ahead of Ottawa and Boston, who were tied for the second and final spot.
Mike Green tallied the Capitals' third goal 20 seconds into the third period.