Series (Game 5 of 6)

Washington leads 6-0

Game 1: Thursday, October 22nd
Game 2: Thursday, October 29th
Game 3: Saturday, January 9th
Game 4: Friday, February 5th
Game 5: Thursday, April 1st
Game 6: Friday, April 9th

Jets 1

(34-32-12, 80 pts)

Capitals 2

(50-15-12, 112 pts)

Coverage: NBCSN

7:00 PM ET, April 1, 2010

Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia

1 2 3 T
WPG 0 1 01
WSH 1 0 12

M. Bradley (Capitals - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

M. Green (Capitals - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

J. Oduya (Jets - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

Thrashers-Capitals Preview


With five games left, the Atlanta Thrashers have little margin for error if they hope to make the playoffs for the second time in franchise history.

Their schedule could not be any less forgiving.

Three Eastern Conference heavyweights are the Thrashers' remaining opponents, and Atlanta makes the first of two visits to the nation's capital looking to avoid a seventh straight loss to the NHL-leading Washington Capitals on Thursday night.

Atlanta (34-31-12) has gone 6-2-1 in the past nine games as it tries to make a late postseason push, but to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2007, it will definitely have to earn it.

The Thrashers' past four games came against Toronto and Carolina, and after Nik Antropov's third-period goal capped a 3-2 win over the Maple Leafs on Tuesday, Atlanta is within two points of a playoff spot.

The remaining five contests, however, are considerably more imposing. Atlanta visits Washington (49-15-12) twice, hosts New Jersey and plays a home-and-home with Pittsburgh -- its three most likely first-round opponents should it sneak in.

"It's been a must-win for the last month or so it feels like," forward Colby Armstrong said. "We know what the schedule is. Five games left and we've got some tough teams coming up. We're going to have to get rested up here as best we can for this last push."

A potential playoff matchup with the Capitals, who have the East's No. 1 seed wrapped up, does not bode well for coach John Anderson's club. Atlanta has lost all four meetings to its Southeast Division rival this season, and has been outscored 32-16 in losing the last six matchups in the series in regulation.

Alex Ovechkin has recorded three goals and seven assists in that stretch, while Alexander Semin has five goals and three assists.

Washington has a comfortable cushion on San Jose in the race for the Presidents' Trophy, but having the NHL's best record hasn't been beneficial in recent years once the postseason begins. Five of the last six winners failed to make it to the Stanley Cup finals, with only the 2007-08 Red Wings capturing the cup.

The Capitals have shown some potentially troubling signs over their last three games, getting outscored 9-1 in the first period in going 0-1-2 in that stretch.

Washington fell 5-4 in overtime to visiting Ottawa on Tuesday.

"Maybe we're not ready for the first period," said center Nicklas Backstrom, who has 29 goals but three in his last 16 games. "... So we have to get ready now and play a good 60 minutes. We haven't played a good 60 minutes in a while."

Coach Bruce Boudreau seemed a bit concerned about his goaltending after the loss to the Senators. Jose Theodore kept his remarkable streak without a regulation loss (17-0-3) intact, but was not sharp one game after getting pulled for allowing three goals on 10 shots in the first period.

Theodore has a 3.27 goals-against average in his last seven starts.

"I don't like five goals against," Boudreau said. "That has happened twice in a row and we've got to get better. There were four pretty iffy goals out there (against Ottawa)."

Theodore has not faced Atlanta this season. Semyon Varlamov was in net for two October wins, then Michal Neuvirth played as Washington outscored the Thrashers 13-3 in the next two meetings.