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Atlanta Thrashers 7, Washington Capitals 3 FINAL @NHL

WASHINGTON (AP) - Peter Bondra's return to Washington was greeted with cheers. It didn't take long for him to draw boos from his former fans.

The Capitals' career leader in several categories scored his first goal against his longtime club and added two assists to send the Atlanta Thrashers on their way to a 7-3 victory over Washington on Friday night.

``Obviously, I have a lot of memories here,'' Bondra said, ``but at the same time I'm going to put all my energies into moving forward and doing my best for the Thrashers.''

He received loud applause during pregame introductions, and he quickly showed why he was a fan favorite during his 14 years with the Capitals.

With 11 seconds left on a power play, Bondra tapped a loose puck past goalie Olie Kolzig 6:24 into the game to make it 1-0. The goal gave Bondra at least one against every NHL team; he didn't score in his lone previous game against Washington.

``For us, to score first, I think that was the key. That goal maybe gives us a little confidence,'' Bondra said.

When the red light flashed, many in the stands initially cheered, perhaps out of respect or simply a reflex after all those years of saluting goals by No. 12. That quickly was drowned by jeers from the announced crowd of 13,021.

``It wasn't a real boo. Maybe if it had been a full house it would be different,'' Bondra said.

He produced more goals (472), points (825) and power-play goals (137) than anyone ever has in a Capitals uniform. Washington traded him to Ottawa during last season's salary dump, and the Capitals made him an offer during the offseason, but Bondra chose Atlanta.

``We wanted to play Peter real hard because we know he can make an impact on a hockey game. We've seen that here,'' Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said. ``But trying and doing are two different things.''

Atlanta, shut out in a season-opening loss to Florida, scored its first four goals Friday on power plays. Washington killed all nine penalties it faced in its opening win.

``As patient as we were in Game 1, we were just running around too much,'' Hanlon said. ``A little overaggressive.''

Marc Savard had a goal and his 200th career assist, Marian Hossa had a goal and two assists, and Bobby Holik, Jaroslav Modry, Eric Boulton and Vyacheslav Kozlov also scored for Atlanta.

Bondra, Modry and Boulton were signed as free agents this offseason, while Hossa came over from Ottawa in the Dany Heatley trade.

``Our power play was really clicking. Lots of skill, lots of speed and lots of experience,'' Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said.

Mathieu Biron, Brian Willsie and Andrew Cassels scored for Washington, which was outshot 33-10 through two periods and 39-22 overall. Jeff Halpern had his fourth assist of the season, and 2004 No. 1 overall draft pick Alexander Ovechkin recorded his first assist after scoring twice in his NHL debut Wednesday.

Bondra assisted on Holik's goal 5:03 into the second period to make it 3-1, and also on Savard's score that made it 4-1 at 10:18.

Active all over the ice, Bondra hardly looked like someone who's 37.

``He's playing,'' Hartley said, ``with the excitement of a rookie.''

Atlanta made its big edge stand up, never allowing Washington to get closer than a two-goal deficit. It was 5-3 in the waning moments and, after the Capitals pulled Kolzig, Kozlov and Hossa put in empty-netters in the last 1 1/2 minutes.

``We were talking before the game: 'We have to jump on them and get the lead right away,''' Hossa said. ``And that's what we did.''

Notes: The last 3 1/2 minutes were played minus one official, because linesman Tim Nowak left after apparently getting injured. ... Attendance was 3,304 lower than opening night at the 18,277-seat arena. ... Atlanta GM Don Waddell met Friday in New York with the agent for holdout forward Ilya Kovalchuk, making progress on a new contract. ... The teams face each other at Atlanta on Saturday. ... Of Bondra's 478 career goals, he's scored the most against Tampa Bay: 40 in 52 games.

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