Washington wrapped up its five-game homestand on a winning note, grabbing a 4-3 win over Atlanta to close it out with a 3-2-0 record. In the process, rookie goalie Michal Neuvirth earned his second NHL win in his first-ever start at Verizon Center.
Mike Green also got off his brief goal-scoring slump as the Caps used a trio of power-play goals to hold off the Thrashers, who erased an early Washington lead but couldn't keep the Capitals' extra-man unit off the board.
The Caps opened up the scoring early with a pair of power-play goals, with Alexander Semin beating Kari Lethonen 4:27 into the contest. Just :53 later, Brooks Laich nudged a Mike Green shot that beat Lethonen through the pads just across the goal line for a 2-0 lead, but like Tuesday night, that two-goal edge would eventually vanish.
Atlanta got a big break late in the first when Rich Peverley got away with a high stick under Alex Ovechkin's visor, and Ovechkin started a fracas along the boards, and was sent to the box for roughing when he went after Marty Reasoner. On the ensuing power play, Ilya Kovalchuk fired home his 32nd goal of the season off a nice feed from Todd White past Michal Neuvirth to cut the deficit to one heading into the dressing room after 20 minutes.
Peverley then contributed in a more direct way on the score sheet less than four minutes into the second period, beating the defense and then Neuvirth on a breakaway to even the game at the 3:56 mark.
However, unlike the loss to the Flyers, the Caps crawled back on top after blowing the lead, as Green fired in his 23rd of the season with 7:35 left in the period for Washington's third power-play marker of the game. Green also tied a team mark with his 16th power-play goal of the season, even with Scott Stevens' club record set back in 1984-85.
In the third, the Caps added some insurance, as Eric Fehr collected a deflected Shaone Morrisonn shot and put it through Lethonen's legs for a 4-2 lead with 4:47 gone in the period.
Washington would need Fehr's marker, as White scored a short-handed tally with 1:57 left in regulation, cutting the lead to just one. But even with Lethonen pulled, but the Thrashers couldn't pull any closer and the Caps skated off with the two points.
The contest also marked the 10th straight sellout for the Caps for a new franchise record, as the team will break the mark of 23 sellouts in a season. The team also announced that 2,500 new season ticket packages have been sold for next year, boding well that the new single-season record may be a short-lived one as the building nears capacity already for the 2009-10 campaign.
But next up for the current version of the Caps is a one-game road trip to Boston, facing a Bruins team that apparently is back firing on all cylinders, beating Florida and Anaheim in home games by a combined score of 12-1 this week. The Caps remain nine points behind Boston for the top seed in the East, but also remain two points ahead of third-place New Jersey, who shut out Colorado in Martin Brodeur's return between the pipes.
After the date with the Bruins, the Caps return home Sunday afternoon to open a four-game homestand against Florida.