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Caps try to get back on track vs. Thrashers

by John Kreiser

THRASHERS (3-4-0) at CAPITALS (4-3-0)

TV: CSN-Washington

Season series -- The Southeast Division rivals are meeting for the second of six times this season. The Thrashers won 4-2 at home on Oct. 8 in the season-opener for both teams. Washington swept the six-game series last season.

Big story -- Neither team is coming into this one playing well. The Capitals dropped both ends of a home-and-home series to the Bruins, including a 4-1 loss in Boston on Thursday. Atlanta might be glad to be getting out of town after a 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Friday that came two days after a 4-1 loss to Buffalo.

Team Scope:

Thrashers -- It's hard enough to win after spotting the opposition an early lead. The Thrashers have spotted their last two opponents a three-goal advantage -- and not surprisingly, they were beaten soundly by the Sabres and Lightning.

Two of the three early goals by Tampa Bay came on the power play, a fact that frustrated coach Craig Ramsay.

"When you put teams on the power play that often, they're going to score, especially teams as talented as they are," Ramsay said.

Capitals -- Washington reeled off four consecutive wins after the opening-night loss to the Thrashers, but this week has brought the Caps back to earth. They were outscored 7-2 in back-to-back losses to Boston, and Alex Ovechkin went without a point in both games.

"Sometimes you watch TV and the chances to score are 18-14 or whatever," Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. "We had chances that were 10-bell chances. They were chances where you go, 'Holy smokes, how the heck did he stop that?' We've got to bear down more."

Who's hot -- Washington's penalty-killers had been hot; they killed off the first 25 power plays they faced before getting smoked three times in four tries in Boston. … The Thrashers scored just three goals in their last two games.

Injury report -- Atlanta defenseman Zach Bogosian has missed the Thrashers' last four games with a shoulder injury. Goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who collapsed early in the season-opener against the Capitals, sustained a concussion and has yet to return. … Matt Bradley (lower body) has missed Washington's last four games. Defenseman Mike Green (upper body) practiced Friday and is day-to-day.

Stat pack -- Washington was tops in the NHL in scoring last season, but is 15th so far in 2010-11. Only once in the first seven games of the season have the Capitals managed to score more than two goals in regulation.

Puck drop -- The Caps' power play led the NHL during the regular season in 2009-10, but went just 3-for-33 in the playoff loss to Montreal -- and the extra-man unit's struggles are continuing. Washington's power play enters the game just 4-for-30, 15.4 percent.

"We have to get better on our special teams," Boudreau said. "Our power play is sort of in neutral right now, and that's why we worked on it all day today. I thought we played two not bad games, and we came away with nothing."

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