The Thrashers have opened up a five-point lead in the Southeast Division, thanks to four consecutive wins that gave them some breathing room over second-place Tampa Bay. That run was halted Saturday night, when Atlanta lost 4-0 to the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.
The Thrashers managed only 18 shots against New York's Garth Snow, and four Islanders scored as Atlanta was shut out for the third time this season. The Thrashers scored 20 goals in the four straight victories.
"We battled hard and we battled well," said Atlanta coach Bob Hartley, whose team had dropped four of five before the winning streak. "I felt we deserved a better fate than this."
Pasi Nurminen stopped 25 shots for Atlanta.
"We had some chances early and didn't take advantage of them," Nurminen said. "They had some chances late, and scored. That's why they won the game."
The Thrashers hope a return home will help them get back to their winning ways. Atlanta, 10-5-2 at Philips Arena, plays two straight and four of the next five games at home, including a Dec. 26 matchup with the Lightning.
Atlanta will be facing a stumbling Washington club that has dropped four of five, including a 5-1 loss to Detroit on Saturday night.
The Red Wings were one of several tough opponents during a brutal stretch of schedule for the Capitals.
Washington's last five opponents have been New Jersey, Los Angeles, Colorado, Boston and Detroit -- all battling for first place in their respective divisions.
Jaromir Jagr scored the game's first goal Saturday, but otherwise the Capitals managed only 19 shots in Glen Hanlon's second game as Washington coach. Hanlon won in his debut Thursday.
"It's very tough to come back against Detroit, but it's going to be a long process. It's not going to change overnight," Jagr said. "You can always take positive steps from the loss. Hopefully, we're going to be OK."
The Capitals are tied for the fewest points in the Eastern Conference and are six points behind Carolina, the team directly ahead of them in fourth place in the Southeast.