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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, March 20th (All times eastern)

Atlanta Thrashers (30-34-7-4) at Washington Capitals (22-42-8-2), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - With their second straight 30-win season in hand, the Atlanta Thrashers visit the Washington Capitals at the MCI Center.

While the Thrashers faltered out of the playoff picture after a promising start to the season, they can tie the club record for victories in a season with a decision tonight. The team won 31 games a in 2002-03.

On Friday, Andy Sutton and Ilya Kovalchuk scored in the final two minutes of the third period to rally Atlanta to a 3-2 win over Florida at Philips Arena.

Dany Heatley added his ninth goal of the season for the Thrashers, who earned their fourth straight victory in the series and won for the third time in four games overall (3-0-0-1).

Kari Lehtonen, the second-overall selection in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, made 19 saves in his NHL debut after playing for Chicago of the American Hockey League all season.

Kovalchuk delivered the game-winner 1:27 after Sutton had tied things. His 39th goal of the season came at a tough angle, on the goal line, to Roberto Luongo's left. Kovalchuk leads Columbus' Rick Nash and Calgary's Jarome Iginla by two in the NHL goal-scoring race.

The Thrashers, 0-1-1 in their last two road games, will host the Capitals on Wednesday.

Washington, meanwhile, ended a five-game losing streak with Thursday's 4-3 overtime win over the NY Rangers. Kip Miller scored the game-winning goal 1:18 into overtime and Olaf Kolzig made 30 saves to back the effort.

Miller also had two assists for Washington, which overcame a two-goal third- period deficit. Josef Boumedienne added a goal and two assists and Jeff Halpern had a goal and an assist.

Alexander Semin, who had an assist on the Capitals' second goal, has a four- game point-scoring streak. Over that span he has two goals and two assists.

Jaromir Jagr, who was making his first appearance in Washington since being traded to New York from the Capitals, had a goal and an assist for the Rangers.

The Caps, who ended a three-game home losing streak, will visit the NY Islanders on Tuesday to begin a three-game swing.

Washington and Atlanta have split four games this season, but the Capitals are 10-4-2 in the last 16 clashes overall.

The Thrashers are 1-9-2 all-time at the MCI Center.

03/20 10:20:28 ET


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