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NHL Game Summary - Atlanta at Washington

(Friday, November 3rd)

Final Score: Atlanta 4, Washington 3

Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Steve Rucchin scored the go-ahead goal 27 seconds into the third period, and Johan Hedberg stopped 24-of-27 shots as the Atlanta Thrashers held off the Washington Capitals, 4-3, at the Verizon Center.

Greg de Vries and Jon Sim each scored a goal and assisted on another for the Thrashers, who snapped a two-game skid and gave Hedberg his first win of the season in only his second start.

Usual starting netminder Kari Lehtonen, who is 8-3-3 for Atlanta this season, imploded during his last start. He surrendered four goals on 13 shots before being yanked in the second period as the Thrashers dropped a 5-2 tilt to visiting Carolina on Wednesday.

Rucchin's backhander gave the Thrashers a 4-3 lead. Sim carried the puck out to the blue line and passed it to Rucchin, who sliced a shot that slipped between goaltender Olaf Kolzig and the near post. It was Rucchin's second goal of the season.

The Capitals had a late chance to tie it, going on the power play with under five minutes remaining. They managed one shot on net, however, before being whistled for having too many men on the ice.

Washington has now lost three of four. The Capitals were coming off a 4-2 win in Calgary on Monday, a contest that marked the end of a four-game road trip.

Kolzig stopped 30-of-34 shots, but suffered his fifth loss of the season.

Speedy right winger Dainius Zubrus tallied two goals for the Caps. Chris Clark also added a goal and assisted on another.

Zubrus got Washington on the board with a power play tally in the first. With Andy Sutton off for holding, Atlanta turned the puck over inside the blue line. The disc ran along the left boards and was picked up by Alexander Ovechkin. The winger threw a cross ice pass to Richard Zednik, who spun and sent the puck toward the net. Zubrus' quick deflection of the misfire then found the twine with 7:50 remaining.

A wild second period was to follow.

Clark buried a breakaway shot during a short-handed situation to put the Caps up 2-0 with just 1:36 gone after the intermission. Off the faceoff in the defensive zone, Washington won the draw and Boyd Gordon sent the puck spiraling toward the boards. Clark beat Steve McCarthy on the play and raced in alone, sending a 38-foot snap shot past Hedberg to light the lamp and record Washington's first short-handed goal of the season.

Atlanta then turned the tables with an offensive outburst, scoring three goals within a span of just over three minutes.

The first tally came with 8:25 remaining in the second. Ilya Kovalchuk pushed back the defense and carried the puck up the ice. Coming late on the far side was Sim, who caught the puck on the blade of his stick and sent the one- timer past Kolzig to cut Washington's lead in half.

Then, penalties on both sides allowed four-on-four hockey to open up the ice. De Vries jumped up into the play along the right side, tipping home a shot by Rucchin to knot things at 2-2 at 14:17.

Finally, 35 seconds later, a bang-bang play gave the Thrashers a 3-2 lead. Marian Hossa factored in with a nifty stop-and-start behind the net before throwing the puck out in front. Several players camped out near the crease jabbed at the puck but Slava Kozlov finally beat Kolzig, who appeared to make the save before the puck trickled over the line.

Zubrus notched his second goal of the contest with 5.3 ticks remaining in the period to tie the game. The goal was waved off immediately and then reviewed, as it appeared Clark made a hand pass to Zubrus before he knocked the puck home. The delay approached the three minute mark before the officials gave their ruling, making it a 3-3 game.

Atlanta's head coach, Bob Hartley, summed things up afterward. "Simmer (Jon Sim) got us a big goal. He's that type of guy. He's that type of player that needs one chance and he's gonna turn the game around, because it seemed up two zip we had some chances but we couldn't get really open and chances were tough to come. After Simmer's goal...there was more ice to skate and we took advantage of it."

Game Notes

The game marked the first time Washington lost after getting the first goal in regulation...The Thrashers' Niclas Havelid returned home to Sweden for personal reasons and missed the contest...Lehtonen is 5-0 with a 2.33 goals- against average lifetime against the Capitals...The Thrashers also won the first two meetings with the Caps this season, one in overtime and one in a shootout...Atlanta is 10-3-1 in the last 14 meetings overall...The Capitals will visit Philadelphia on Saturday, while the Thrashers travel to New York to battle the Islanders.

11/04 01:32:34 ET

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