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Washington at Atlanta

Capitals bring out scoring sticks, hit Thrashers for eight goals

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- The Washington Capitals are turning the Southeast Division race into a one-team show.

The Atlanta Thrashers should need no more convincing of the Capitals' dominance.

Mike Knuble and Alexander Semin each scored two goals, and the Capitals beat Atlanta 8-1 on Saturday for their fifth straight win over the Thrashers, including three straight this season.

The second-place Thrashers are 16 points behind the Capitals in the division.

"They are a highly skilled team with highly skilled players and those players beat us, no way around it," Atlanta defenseman Ron Hainsey said.

Michal Neuvirth stopped 38 shots in the runaway win.

The Capitals, who scored four goals in the third period, matched their season high for a game. They have scored at least four goals in three straight wins.

The Thrashers ended a nine-game losing streak with a shootout win over the New York Rangers on Thursday.

The team's continued struggles could make it more difficult to re-sign Ilya Kovalchuk, who was stopped on seven shots.

"This team is having trouble scoring goals," Atlanta coach John Anderson said. "Our big guns, they have to start scoring goals. We have some guys on the team that are underachieving in the scoring category."

The Thrashers have allowed four or more goals in 11 of 13 games. They had not given up more than six before being overwhelmed by the Capitals.

Anderson said the Thrashers "felt sorry for ourselves" in the third period.

"You can't stop playing, no matter what," Anderson said.

Knuble, Semin and Nicklas Backstrom scored in the first period. Knuble pushed the lead to 4-0 with his second goal, on an assist from Alexander Ovechkin, early in the second.

"I capitalized on my chances," Knuble said.

Semin, Dave Steckel, Tom Poti and Jason Chimera completed the rout with goals in the third period.

Maxim Afinogenov scored past a diving Neuvirth 14:14 into the second period for Atlanta's only goal.

Johan Hedberg stopped only five of nine shots before he was pulled early in the second period. Ondrej Pavelec stopped 24 shots in relief.

Washington leads the NHL with an average of 3.51 goals per game. The Capitals almost matched that in the opening 20 minutes. They scored even-strength, power-play and short-handed goals in the first period for a 3-0 lead despite being outshot 18-7.

"It's hard to say you got off to a good start when you are down 3-0, but the start was there," Hainsey said. "We had our chances. We got none and they got three."

The opening period was a confidence-builder for Neuvirth.

"I had a couple of good saves in the first period," he said. "It was a great 20 minutes for us. It gave me a lot of confidence."

While the young goalie's confidence soared, the Thrashers' frustrations showed.

"In the first period, they were working hard," Washington defenseman Brian Pothier said. "In the second, they seemed a little discouraged. The world caved in on them a little bit."

Knuble scored on a deflection to open the scoring. Semin added a short-handed goal before Backstrom's power-play goal with 19 seconds remaining in the frame.

"The lesson learned tonight is that we need to play better," Hedberg said.

Notes

  • The Capitals also had eight goals in an 8-2 win at Philadelphia on Dec. 5.
  • D Poti's goal was his first of the season. He also had an assist.
  • The Capitals have won four straight in Atlanta.
  • Thrashers F Nik Antropov (hip) missed his third straight game.
  • The game was the first of three straight for the Capitals at Southeast Division opponents. The swing also includes games at Tampa Bay and Florida.
  • Neuvirth has played in six of the Capitals' last nine games.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Captain Alex Ovechkin celebrates a goal, not his, but that of teammate Nicklas Backstrom. (AP)
Captain Alex Ovechkin celebrates a goal, not his, but that of teammate Nicklas Backstrom. (AP)

Scoreboard
Washington  (27-11-6) «3148
Atlanta (19-19-6)0101
Three Stars
M. Knuble
WAS


Goals: 2
Assist(s): 0
A. Semin
WAS


Goals: 2
Assist(s): 1
M. Green
WAS


Goals: 0
Assist(s): 2
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
04:44Mike Knuble (9), Tip-In. Assist: Poti, Schultz
16:47Short - Alexander Semin (17), Wrist Shot. Assist: Laich, Green
19:41Power Play - Nicklas Backstrom (18), Snap Shot. Assist: Green
2ND PERIOD
04:43Mike Knuble (10), Wrist Shot. Assist: Ovechkin, Schultz
14:13Maxim Afinogenov (16), Wrist Shot. Assist: Kubina, Enstrom
3RD PERIOD
06:58Alexander Semin (18), Snap Shot. Assist: Fleischmann, Poti
09:35Dave Steckel (3), Tip-In. Assist: Bradley, Gordon
16:08Power Play - Tom Poti (1), Slap Shot. Assist: Semin, Pothier
16:50Jason Chimera (9), Snap Shot. Assist: Morrison, Fehr
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
12:13Gordon, 2 min, Tripping
15:19Erskine, 2 min, Holding
19:13Armstrong, 2 min, Tripping
2ND PERIOD
16:14Ovechkin, 2 min, Cross-Checking
16:19Kozlov, 2 min, Cross-Checking
3RD PERIOD
14:48Kubina, 2 min, Slashing
Shots On Goal
 123T
Washington7171337
Atlanta1815639
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Michal Neuvirth59:35381
Johan Hedberg24:3564
Ondrej Pavelec35:17244
Game Information
Attendance - 16767
Referees - Rob Martell, Eric Furlatt
Linesmen - Scott Driscoll, Thor Nelson
 
Other Games
Ana 3 Final
Nash 2
TB 1 Final
Phi 4
Colo 4 Final
Buf 3
Cal 3 Final
Van 2
NYR 3 Final
Bos 1
StL 4 Final
LA 3
NYI 5 Final
Pho 4
Det 4 Final
SJ 1
Pitt 4 Final
Tor 1
NJ 2 Final
OT
Mon 1
Chi 5 Final
Min 6
Fla 3 Final
Ott 0