Coach Barry Trotz has turned into a realist when it comes to the Predators' playoff chances.

"Our moons have to absolutely align for us to somehow get in," he said.

That might be true, but the Predators still have some games to play. And Nashville proved that even in spite of tough playoff odds, it has the ability to respond after tough, grinding defeats.

The Predators came out stronger and fresher Sunday, and Craig Smith scored in the shootout to lift Nashville over the Washington Capitals 4-3 in front of a crowd of 16,553 at Bridgestone Arena.

The win followed a 7-3 beatdown by the Stars on Friday.

"Usually when you have a game like the Dallas game, and I've been doing this for 30 years ... you see teams sag," Trotz said. "Then when reality sets in for a little bit, and after three or four games, you wake up. I think we talked about it and said, 'This is part of the learning process for a young team. Let's realize where we are and what we can do."