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Caps win shootout to beat Thrashers 6-5

ATLANTA (AP) -- Washington rookie Alexander Ovechkin ended a
personal scoring skid and then added to his shootout mastery of the
Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday night.

After having a goal and three assists in regulation to end his
mini-slump of two games without a point, Ovechkin scored the only
goal in the shootout to lift Washington past Atlanta 6-5, giving
the Capitals a rare road victory.

Ovechkin also scored the only shootout goal in the Capitals' 3-2
win over the Thrashers in Washington on Nov. 4.

"When I got into the shootout, I know what I'm going to do,"
Ovechkin said. "I just got the shot that was available and was
able to make."

The Capitals are 4-2 in shootouts.

After Washington's Andrew Cassels and Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk
had shots blocked to lead off the shootout, Ovechkin's shot over
Atlanta goaltender Michael Garnett's glove hit the bottom of the
crossbar and dropped into the net to give the Capitals the lead.

Marian Hossa, who tied a Thrashers record with five points, and
Slava Kozlov had shots stopped by Washington goaltender Brent
Johnson to leave the Thrashers scoreless in the shootout.

Johnson stopped 29 shots, including two in overtime, for his
second win of the season.

Johnson, giving regular goalie Olie Kolzig a night off,
surpassed Washington coach Glen Hanlon's expectations.

"We just expect him to hold strong and steal us a point," said
Hanlon of Johnson. "It was unexpected for him to shut them out in
a shootout."

Washington improved to 4-11-1 on the road. The Capitals snapped
a two-game losing streak and won for only the third times in their
last 12 games.

The Capitals also beat Atlanta 3-2 in a shootout on Nov. 4 in
Washington.

The Thrashers were denied their first four-game winning streak
of the season. They fell to 0-4 in shootouts but took some
consolation in rallying from a 5-3 deficit with two goals in the
third period.

"This was still a good point for us," Hossa said. "We came
back after we been down. In shootouts, it seems we cannot win."

After setting a franchise record with 55 shots on goal but still
losing 3-2 to Florida on Sunday, the Capitals needed a season high
for goals in a game to take the win. They outshot the Thrashers
37-34.

"If you don't shoot the puck, how are you going to score
goals?" Ovechkin asked.

Jeff Halpern, Brooks Laich, Mathieu Biron and Dainius Zubrus
also had goals for the Capitals.

Hossa had a goal and four assists for Atlanta. Kovalchuk,
Kozlov, Marc Savard and Andy Sutton also had goals for the
Thrashers.

The Capitals needed only two periods to match their scoring high
for the season with five goals. Washington had scored five goals
four times this season, most recently in a 5-1 win over the New
York Rangers on Dec. 3.

Washington led 5-3 after two periods, but Atlanta pulled even
with third-period goals from Sutton, his first of the season, and
Hossa, setting up the scoreless overtime.

Washington is 8-0 when allowing no more than two goals, but it
had won only two of 23 games when giving up three or more goals.
That changed with Thursday night's high-scoring game.

The Thrashers took a 3-2 lead in the first period, but the
Capitals answered with three goals in the second period for a 5-3
advantage.

Kovalchuk drew a 10-minute misconduct penalty 2:02 into the
third penalty. The penalty came after Kovalchuk threw his stick
handle over the glass after breaking his stick on a shot attempt.

"I broke my stick and threw it away," he said. "I didn't do
it on purpose."

Game notes
With Serge Aubin unable to play due to flu symptoms, the
Thrashers recalled forward Karl Stewart from the Chicago Wolves of
the American Hockey League. Atlanta also recalled G Adam Berkhoel
from Gwinnett of the ECHL. ... The Capitals pulled even in the
series with Atlanta, 2-2.