NHL Game Summary - Atlanta at Washington
(Sunday, April 5th)
Final Score: Washington 6, Atlanta 4
Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Brooks Laich posted a goal and two assists as Washington used a third-period surge to top Atlanta, 6-4, in the front end of a home-and-home series at Verizon Center.
Michael Nylander, Alexander Semin, Keith Aucoin, Eric Fehr and Tomas Fleischmann all picked up a goal and one helper for the Capitals, who moved back into second place in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of idle New Jersey with their third win in four games.
Despite allowing four goals on just 24 shots, Jose Theodore picked up his 31st win of the season.
Colby Armstrong, Jim Slater, Ilya Kovalchuk and Slava Kozlov tallied for the Thrashers, whose four-game win streak came to a halt against the Southeast Division champs.
Johan Hedberg surrendered five goals on 32 shots in defeat.
The clubs meet once more, to conclude the season series, on Tuesday in Atlanta.
Nylander opened the third with his ninth goal of the season, taking a pass from Laich and sending a knuckling one-timer from the slot home for a 3-3 game at 2:43.
Fehr followed up by corralling his own cut-off pass and pushing it over a falling Hedberg at 5:04, and Semin finished off a slick passing play from Fleischmann and Aucoin for a 5-3 contest at 8:20.
Theodore made an ill-advised clearing attempt and Kozlov benefited to bring Atlanta back within one with 43.9 to play, but Laich hit the empty net in the final seconds to clinch it for the Caps.
"It was important that other guys scored," noted Caps defenseman Mike Green about his club not relying on Alex Ovechkin to produce all the time. "We had a lot of guys who hadn't scored recently hitting the scoresheet and that's what we need heading to the playoffs."
Fleischmann opened the scoring 2:13 into the contest, and Armstrong equalized for Atlanta at 7:48.
The Thrashers assumed a 2-1 edge on Slater's short-handed score off a turnover 1:23 into the second period.
Washington countered as Ovechkin controlled a puck at his feet and slid across to Aucoin for a tap-in just before the midway point of the contest.
Kovalchuk then unleashed one of his trademark wristers to beat Theodore high to the glove side for a 3-2 game with 4:21 to play before intermission.
"I don't think the loss is very important for us," said a sullen Kovalchuk. "We were out of the playoffs a long time ago, so we just want to focus on the positive stuff. We played good the first two periods but ran out of gas in the third."
With three games remaining, the Capitals now have 48 wins on the year, two shy of the franchise record of 50 set in 1985-86...The win also gives Washington 104 points, three away from the franchise mark of 107 from that same season...The Caps have won three of five against the Thrashers...Ovechkin picked up two assists...Prior to the contest, Atlanta recalled goaltender Ondrej Pavelec from Chicago of the AHL and assigned netminder Dan Turple to Chicago.
04/05 19:23:59 ET