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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Tuesday, November 6th (All times eastern)

Washington Capitals (5-9-0) at Atlanta Thrashers (5-9-0), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk will try for his third straight hat trick tonight, when the Thrashers invite the struggling Washington Capitals to Philips Arena.

Kovalchuk has posted consecutive three-goal games and Atlanta was 1-1 in those tests as it lost at Ottawa on Thursday before defeating the Lightning in Tampa this past Saturday.

The last player to post back-to-back hat tricks was Alex Kovalev, who did it with Pittsburgh during the 2001-02 season. Tonight, Kovalchuk has a chance to become the first player in NHL history to record three hat tricks in a row.

The 24-year-old Russian has nine hat tricks in his career and his 12 goals this year ties him with Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg for the NHL lead.

The Thrashers have played well since general manager Don Waddell took over coaching duties on an interim basis. The club fired Bob Hartley after Atlanta began the season with six straight losses, and the Thrashers have gone 5-3-0 in eight games since.

Atlanta was in action on Saturday and rallied to beat the Lightning in Tampa. Kovalchuk led the way as the Thrashers defeated the Lightning, 6-4, at St. Pete Times Forum.

Marian Hossa also had a goal and an assist while Pascal Dupuis and Tobias Enstrom each scored a goal for the Thrashers, who have won three of their last four outings.

Ondrej Pavelec made the first start of his career in net and finished with 30 saves for Atlanta, which finished a seven-game road trip with a 4-3 mark.

The Thrashers are just 1-3-0 as the home club this year. Atlanta will head back on the road in its next games, as the team battles Florida this Friday night.

The Capitals, meanwhile, have dropped three straight, five of six and nine of their last 11 games after beginning the season with three wins in a row.

The most recent setback for Washington came in a lopsided loss at Carolina on Monday. Cory Stillman netted a natural hat trick in a span of 7:05 during the opening period and the Hurricanes rolled to a 5-0 win over the Capitals.

Olaf Kolzig allowed five goals on 24 shots, while backup Brent Johnson stopped all nine shots he faced in relief for Washington.

Tonight marks the middle portion of a three-game road trip for the Capitals, who are 3-5-0 as the visiting club this season.

Washington beat Atlanta, 3-1, back on October 5 and the Caps have taken two straight and four of the last five meetings with the Thrashers. Atlanta has also lost two in a row and three of its last four home tests against the Capitals.

11/06 10:34:04 ET

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