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Nate Schmidt records first NHL goal in Capitals win over Nashville

Before Saturday’s game, Karl Alzner and Nate Schmidt had commiserated about their lack of goals. Not just that they hadn’t scored this season but that Alzner had yet to score a goal in his career at home on Verizon Center ice and that Schmidt was still waiting for his first NHL goal.

So after Alzner finally recorded a goal in the building on F Street in the first period of Washington’s 5-2 win over the Predators, he tapped his rookie teammate on the shoulder.

“In between the intermission actually, I said ‘All right Schmitty now that I scored, you can score one,’” Alzner said. “And he went out and did it.”

Early in the third period, Joel Ward won a faceoff to the right of the Nashville goal and Martin Erat gained possession of the puck in the corner. The veteran forward spotted Schmidt alone a few feet in from the blueline and threaded a pass to the rookie defenseman. Schmidt, 22, blasted a slap shot past Predators goalie Marek Mazanec for his first career goal in his 25th NHL game.

“Marty Erat, guy that was great all night, makes a great play out of the corner to me,” Schmidt said. “I’m all alone in front of the net. I had the easy part — he did all the hard work for me.”

Schmidt was mobbed by every player on the ice, perhaps no one more happy to see him record the milestone than his defensive partner as of late, John Carlson, who picked the Minnesota native up off the ice.

“I was ecstatic,” Schmidt said. “When I saw [Carlson] coming I almost tried to go against the boards. I felt like he was going to hit me like the other team would but it was great. The guys have been great.”

The first thing anyone notices about Schmidt is that he’s always smiling. There’s yet to be a practice, game or any other team activity where he hasn’t had a grin on his face and his teammates are glad to see the rookie with a persistently sunny outlook get rewarded.

“Everyone kind of goes back, when you see someone score their first career goal you think of your own first career goal and it’s a good one for him,” Troy Brouwer said. “I’m happy for him. I hope he enjoys it.”

More on offense from the defense and Alzner’s goal Sunday in Five Thoughts.