Michael Nylander scored the pivotal goal in a shootout, and the Washington Capitals generated enough firepower to overcome the absence of Alex Ovechkin and beat the Nashville Predators 4-3 Tuesday night.
Alexander Semin scored as Washington's second shooter before Ville Koistinen tied it on Nashville's third try at Jose Theodore. Nylander then beat Dan Ellis, and Theodore denied Martin Erat.
Ovechkin, the NHL leading scorer and most valuable player last season, left for Russia on Monday to be with his ailing grandfather. The slick-shooting left winger had played in 203 consecutive games and 253 of 254 in his career.
The only other time Ovechkin missed a game was during his rookie season, because of a minor groin injury.
Although Ovechkin had been limited to two goals and three assists in Washington's first eight games, he is a key player on the power play and always receives special attention from the opposition.
Asked before the game whether Ovechkin's absence would make it tougher on the team's other forwards, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said, "I've got to believe common sense says that. I mean, now that they don't have to worry about Alex, they're going to focus on somebody else."
Semin and Sergei Fedorov were the logical targets, but the Capitals got either a goal or an assist from six players.
Jason Arnott scored two goals and Koistinen had one for the Predators, who never led.
Semin put Washington up 3-2 with 18:02 left in regulation, scoring a power-play goal off a pass from Nicklas Backstrom. But Arnott tied it with 6:36 remaining, redirecting a blast by Ryan Suter past Theodore.
The Predators outshot the Capitals 15-3 in the third period.
Semin, who entered tied for the NHL scoring lead with 14 points, has eight goals in nine games. He also had an assist.
Washington outshot Nashville 19-4 in the first period and had a 26-11 advantage after 40 minutes, but the teams entered the third period tied at 2.
The Capitals took a 1-0 lead when Viktor Kozlov -- a member of Ovechkin's usual line -- batted in his own rebound in front of the net at 12:13 of the opening period.
Less than two minutes later, Koistinen connected on a slap shot from above the right circle with Nashville on the power play.
But the Predators' next power play hurt Nashville. After Semin gained possession in his own end, the Predators changed lines. Before the process was completed, Semin sent a lead pass to David Steckel, who slipped the puck under Ellis' pads for a short-handed goal.
Arnott tied it on a backhander in the second period, giving the Predators two goals on seven shots.
Notes: Semin's first seven goals this season were at even strength. ... Nashville is 1-3-1 on the road and has been outscored 22-15. ... The Predators have scored at least three goals in eight straight games, but have yielded at least three in the past six.