WASHINGTON -- Peter Bondra's return to Washington was greeted with cheers. It didn't take long for him to draw boos from his former fans.
The Capitals' career leader in several categories scored his first goal against his longtime club and added two assists to send the Atlanta Thrashers on their way to a 7-3 victory over Washington on Friday night.
"Obviously, I have a lot of memories here," Bondra said, "but at the same time I'm going to put all my energies into moving forward and doing my best for the Thrashers."
He received loud applause during pregame introductions, and he quickly showed why he was a fan favorite during his 14 years with the Capitals.
With 11 seconds left on a power play, Bondra tapped a loose puck past goalie Olie Kolzig 6:24 into the game to make it 1-0. The goal gave Bondra at least one against every NHL team; he didn't score in his lone previous game against Washington.
"For us, to score first, I think that was the key. That goal maybe gives us a little confidence," Bondra said.
When the red light flashed, many in the stands initially cheered, perhaps out of respect or simply a reflex after all those years of saluting goals by No. 12. That quickly was drowned by jeers from the announced crowd of 13,021.
"It wasn't a real boo. Maybe if it had been a full house it would be different," Bondra said.
He produced more goals (472), points (825) and power-play goals (137) than anyone ever has in a Capitals uniform. Washington traded him to Ottawa during last season's salary dump, and the Capitals made him an offer during the offseason, but Bondra chose Atlanta.
"We wanted to play Peter real hard because we know he can make an impact on a hockey game. We've seen that here," Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said. "But trying and doing are two different things."
Atlanta, shut out in a season-opening loss to Florida, scored its first four goals Friday on power plays. Washington killed all nine penalties it faced in its opening win.
"As patient as we were in Game 1, we were just running around too much," Hanlon said. "A little overaggressive."
Bondra, Modry and Boulton were signed as free agents this offseason, while Hossa came over from Ottawa in the Dany Heatley trade.
"Our power play was really clicking. Lots of skill, lots of speed and lots of experience," Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said.
Mathieu Biron, Brian Willsie and Andrew Cassels scored for Washington, which was outshot 33-10 through two periods and 39-22 overall. Jeff Halpern had his fourth assist of the season, and 2004 No. 1 overall draft pick Alexander Ovechkin recorded his first assist after scoring twice in his NHL debut Wednesday.
Bondra assisted on Holik's goal 5:03 into the second period to make it 3-1, and also on Savard's score that made it 4-1 at 10:18.
Active all over the ice, Bondra hardly looked like someone who's 37.
"He's playing," Hartley said, "with the excitement of a rookie."
Atlanta made its big edge stand up, never allowing Washington to get closer than a two-goal deficit. It was 5-3 in the waning moments and, after the Capitals pulled Kolzig, Kozlov and Hossa put in empty-netters in the last 1½ minutes.
"We were talking before the game: 'We have to jump on them and get the lead right away,"' Hossa said. "And that's what we did."
|The Thrashers' Peter Bondra celebrates his goal against his former team, the Capitals. (AP)|
|Atlanta (1-1-0) «||2||2||3||7|
|06:24||Power Play - Peter Bondra, Slap Shot - Assists: Marian Hossa and Marc Savard|
|07:45||Mathieu Biron, Wrist Shot - Assists: Petr Sykora and Jeff Friesen|
|17:14||Power Play - Jaroslav Modry, Snap Shot - Unassisted.|
|05:03||Power Play - Bobby Holik, Slap Shot - Assists: Peter Bondra and Marian Hossa|
|10:18||Power Play - Marc Savard, Slap Shot - Assists: Peter Bondra and J.P. Vigier|
|13:21||Power Play - Brian Willsie, Snap Shot - Assist: Jamie Heward|
|08:36||Eric Boulton, Snap Shot - Assist: Greg de Vries|
|12:42||Power Play - Andrew Cassels, Wrist Shot - Assists: Jeff Halpern and Alexander Ovechkin|
|18:47||Slava Kozlov, Empty Net - Unassisted.|
|19:26||Short - Marian Hossa, Empty Net - Unassisted.|
|04:35||Biron: Holding the stick - 2 min.|
|10:12||Sutton: Interference - 2 min.|
|16:46||Sutherby: Elbowing - 2 min.|
|16:46||Sutherby: Interference - 2 min.|
|02:55||Bondra: Hooking - 2 min.|
|04:43||Eminger: Tripping - 2 min.|
|06:29||Stefan: Hooking - 2 min.|
|09:30||Witt: Tripping - 2 min.|
|12:17||Modry: Hooking - 2 min.|
|18:19||Mellanby: Fighting - 5 min.|
|18:19||Witt: Interference - 2 min.|
|18:19||Bradley: Fighting - 5 min.|
|19:11||Biron: Interference - 2 min.|
|01:04||Eminger: High sticking - 2 min.|
|03:40||Stefan: Interference - 2 min.|
|11:30||Savard: Slashing - 2 min.|
|18:57||Sutton: Delaying Game - 2 min.|
|SHOTS ON GOAL|
|Attendance - 13021|
|Game Time - 60:00|
|Referees - Dave Jackson, Chris Rooney|
|Line Judges - Tim Nowak, Mark Shewchyk|