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Washington Capitals score four goals in third, beat Thrashers 6-4

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WASHINGTON - Tomas Fleischmann had his first multipoint game in nearly two months, and the Washington Capitals got goals from six different players to move into sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference with a 6-4 victory Sunday over the Atlanta Thrashers.

In a scoring slump since mid-January, when he appeared headed for a breakout 30-goal season, Fleischmann opened the scoring with an unassisted goal in the first period and assisted on Alexander Semin's tally during the Capitals' three-goal barrage in the third.

Keith Aucoin, Michael Nylander, Eric Fehr and Brooks Laich also scored for the Capitals, who lead the New Jersey Devils by two points in the battle for the East's No. 2 seed. Each team has three games remaining.

Ilya Kovalchuk scored his 42nd goal, and Colby Armstrong, Jim Slater and Slava Kozlov also netted for the Thrashers, who had leads of 2-1 and 3-2 before the Capitals dominated the final period. Atlanta, despite being out of playoff contention, had won four straight - including three against teams still in the post-season race.

The Capitals finished their regular season home schedule with 29 wins at the Verizon Center, the second-most home victories in franchise history. Washington was virtually unbeatable on home ice during the first half of the season, winning 18 of its first 20 but only 11 of its last 21.

Fleischmann gave the Capitals the early lead when he gloved Nathan Oystrick's clearing attempt and dropped the puck directly in front of goal for the easy shot past Johan Hedberg. It was the 18th of the season for Fleischmann but his first since Feb. 28, a drought of 14 games.

Washington goalie Jose Theodore maintained the lead with a kick save against Eric Perrin during a breakaway, but Armstrong tied the score later in the first period when he turned the corner on defenceman Tom Poti just enough to put a wrist shot inside the far post.

Alex Ovechkin had his cross-ice pass picked off near his own blue-line early in the second period, setting up Slater's short-handed goal that gave Atlanta its first lead. Ovechkin later supplied the assist to Aucoin during another Capitals power play to tie the score again, but Kovalchuk's wrister off the far post put the Thrashers back in front 3-2.

Nylander tied the game yet again early in the third with a wrist shot off a pass from Laich that beat Hedberg to the stick side.

Fehr gave the Capitals the lead 2 1/2 minutes later.

Capitalizing on a Thrashers turnover near the blue-line, Fehr was nearly tripped as he made his way to the net. He appeared to try to pass the puck as he approached the crease, but the puck caromed back to him, so he lifted the puck over Hedberg with 14:56 remaining in the game for his first goal since March 16.

Some nice puck movement led to the final goal, with Fleischmann feeding Semin for a backhander with 11:40 to play. It gave Fleischmann his first multipoint game since Jan. 11.

Kozlov scored unassisted after a poor turnover by Theodore in the final minute to cut the Capitals' lead to one, but Laich added an empty net goal seconds later.

Notes: The Thrashers fended off a 5-on-2 power-play in the first period - if only sticks are counted. Slater and Colin Stuart had their sticks shatter within seconds of each other while on the penalty kill, but the Capitals were unable to convert despite several good chances before the puck was finally smothered to stop play. ... Armstrong has a seven-game scoring streak (three goals, seven assists). ... The teams meet again at Atlanta on Tuesday.

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