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Capitals-Thrashers Preview

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GAME: Washington Capitals (20-33-5) at Atlanta Thrashers (27-27-6).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

Atlanta's Marc Savard and Marian Hossa seem to save their best games for when they face Washington.

The Thrashers will be looking for continued offense from those two stars when they play on home ice for the first time in a month against the Capitals.

Savard is second on the team with a career-best 74 points, one behind Ilya Kovachuk. Hossa is third with 66 points.

In five games this season, Savard has tallied four goals and nine assists. He had a goal and four assists on Oct. 8 in an 8-1 rout of Washington.

Hossa has been almost as good, notching five goals and seven assists in five games versus the Caps. He also recorded a goal and four assists on Dec. 22 in the Thrashers' 6-5 shooutout loss.

Atlanta has recorded points in eight straight games against Washington with five wins, two shootout losses and a tie. In five matchups with the Caps this season, the Thrashers have averaged 5.4 goals and 2.8 power-play goals, up from season averages of 3.3 goals and 1.3 goals with the man advantage.

With 60 points, Atlanta is tied with the Boston Bruins for ninth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Montreal Canadiens are in eighth place with 64 points.

The Thrashers three-game winning streak was snapped Thursday with the 3-2 loss to the Bruins. Kovalchuk tallied a goal and an assist and Peter Bondra also scored, but goaltender Kari Lehtonen couldn't stop Marco Sturm's power-play game-winner with 2:41 remaining.

"To leave this building empty-handed is unbelievable," Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said. "I feel very sorry for my players."

Bondra's goal was just his third since returning on Jan. 24 after missing 22 games with a groin injury and moved him within seven goals of 500 for his career.

He spent his first 13-plus seasons with Washington and is still the franchise record-holder for goals (472), power-play goals (137) and points (825).

Bondra has four goals and three assists in three games against his former team this season.

Washington allowed at least seven goals for the eighth time this season in a 7-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. Rookie phenom Alexander Ovechkin scored the lone goal for the Capitals.

That loss followed a 5-3 win Tuesday over the Toronto Maple Leafs, snapped a four-game slide.

"In Toronto you could say we created our breaks, and (Thursday) Ottawa created theirs," said Capitals coach Glen Hanlon, whose team has lost nine of its last 12 games overall.

Ovechkin, who leads all rookies in scoring, has two goals and six assists in five games against the Thrashers this season. He had a goal and three assists in the shootout win on Dec. 22.

STANDINGS: Capitals - 45 points, 5th place, 41 PB, Southeast Division. Thrashers - 60 points, 3rd place, 26 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Capitals - Ovechkin, 38 goals, 33 assists and 71 points; Brendan Witt, 137 PIM. Thrashers - Kovalchuk, 38 goals and 75 points; Savard, 50 assists; Andy Sutton, 106 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Capitals - Power play: 14.1 percent (49 for 348), 29th in NHL. Penalty killing: 78.2 percent (316 for 404), 28th. Thrashers - Power play: 19.8 percent (80 for 405), 6th. Penalty killing: 79.1 percent (296 for 374), 25th.

GOALTENDERS: Capitals - Olaf Kolzig (15-23-5, 0 SO, 3.58 GAA); Brent Johnson (5-9-0, 0, 4.02). Thrashers - Lehtonen (10-10-0, 1, 2.82); Mike Dunham (4-4-1, 1, 2.79).

SEASON SERIES: Thrashers, 3-2.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 1; Thrashers, 5-2. At Washington, Hossa scored twice and Kovalchuk had a goal and two assists for Atlanta. Ovechkin had a goal and an assist for the Caps.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Capitals - 7-19-1 on the road; Thrashers - 14-11-4 at home.

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