Originally posted on Inside Smashville  |  Last updated 11/16/11

Joel Ward returned to Smashville on Tuesday night as a member of the Washington Capitals. The Predators won 3-1 in a game that saw four goals scored in the final five minutes of regulation.

“It was different at the start of the game,” the 30-year old said after the game. “It was a bit emotional being on the different side of things, but after the first period I kind of settled the nerves a little bit.”

Ward, who was a member of the Predators organization between 2008 and the end of last season, played 13:10 and had one shot on goal.

“He had a really strong game, tonight. All the things he does like protecting pucks and getting pucks out, he is just a solid player. He is going to be good for the Caps,” Head Coach Barry Trotz said about Ward after the game. “He meant a lot to our success and to the community. I love the tribute that we did as an organization.”

“It was unexpected, I didn’t know,” Ward said about the tribute, adding “It was a nice touch for sure. I definitely appreciate it. I was definitely appreciative of the support I had here, it is definitely a place close and dear to me. I spent three great years here. A different outcome to the game would have been better though.”

The former Predator credits the play of goaltender Pekka Rinne for Nashville’s win. “Tonight is a good example of what he did when I was there. He is a great goaltender and plays the puck well. He made some great saves today that could have really made the difference. We had some chances.”

Washington opened scoring with less than five minutes to play in regulation when former Chicago Blackhawk Troy Brouwer beat Rinne to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead with only 4:46 left on the clock. Nashville tied the game just 28 seconds later when captain Shea Weber set up a Marty Erat goal. It was Erat’s third goal of the season.

Ward was at a loss for words when asked about the Predators late come-from-behind win. “It happened right away. It happened quick. We scored and a couple of seconds later they scored. I don’t think it was a letdown by any means. I don’t even know what to say. They made a backdoor play and put it home.”

Nashville took the 2-1 lead when Colin Wilson passed the puck to Erat who was behind the Washington goal. Erat sent the puck back to the slot and Wilson beat former Predator Tomas Vokoun with only 25 seconds left. The goal was Wilson’s fourth tally of the season.

Vokoun says Washington gave away the two points. “We scored that goal, but we can only blame ourselves. We gave them the win. So there’s not much else you can say. We played pretty good, but you get a 1-0 lead with 5 minutes left in the game, you can’t give up plays like that,” he said.

Weber added the empty net goal for his third goal of the season.

Nashville continues its homestand on Thursday night when the Toronto Maple Leafs are in town. The puck drops shortly after 7 pm CT.

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