Capitals-Thrashers Preview

BY foxsports • January 26, 2011

The Washington Capitals would like to see some production from their ailing power play. Finishing a game in regulation may also be a priority.

Alex Ovechkin could provide the difference by continuing his dominance of the Atlanta Thrashers in the conclusion of this season series Wednesday night at Philips Arena.

Washington (27-14-9) has converted 1 of 18 chances on the power play over a 3-2-3 stretch. The unit has a 17.4 percent success rate on the season after leading the NHL at 25.2 in 2009-10, matching the franchise record set the previous season.

"We wanted to get better and we want to have a chance to work at it," coach Bruce Boudreau said of the power play. "You don't give up. You keep trying. You find a way and hopefully, eventually it works and clicks. That's what happens. In retrospect, it's a pretty simple answer; you shoot the puck and you go to the net. That's how you score."

The Capitals came up empty on two power plays Monday, and squandered a third-period lead before falling 2-1 in a shootout to the New York Rangers. They outshot New York 6-1 in overtime, but saw their losing streak in games going beyond regulation reach seven with three decided via the shootout.

Ovechkin was held without a point by the Rangers, two nights after notching his first hat trick of the season in a 4-1 win at Toronto. The All-Star left wing has a team-high 19 goals, a dropoff from his usual production which has seen him score at least 46 goals in each of his first five seasons.

"Sometimes you get them," Boudreau said. "Some years they're all going in, and some years they're not going in. He's fighting for every goal he can get this year."

Facing the struggling Thrashers (23-19-9) gives him a chance to enter the All-Star break on a positive note and give the power play a lift. Atlanta's penalty kill ranks 29th in the NHL with a 75.6 percent success rate, and has given up 14 power-play goals on 30 chances during a 1-4-3 funk.

Ovechkin has 30 goals and 63 points in 41 games versus Atlanta for his highest totals against any opponent. He's accumulated 16 goals and 16 assists in 20 visits to Philips Arena.

He found the net in the most recent meeting Dec. 4, but Washington lost 3-1 at home.

Rookie Braden Holtby will likely start in goal again after going 2-0-1 with a 0.97 goals-against average the last three games. He was pulled midway through the first period of his only game against the Thrashers, surrendering three goals on five shots in a 5-0 loss Nov. 19.

Atlanta struggled in every facet during Sunday's 7-1 loss at Tampa Bay, but coach Craig Ramsay feels the team's recent struggles hasn't had an impact on its confidence.

"I don't think they really think about that much. I know I don't," he said. "Each game is a different contest. You're faced with adversity against everybody as you go through this thing, and you can't be looking behind you. You have to look ahead."

A lower-body injury is expected to keep Andrew Ladd out for a second consecutive game. The Thrashers captain is tied with Dustin Byfuglien with a team-high 16 goals, and has four goals and three assists in five season meetings with Washington.

Byfuglien, Atlanta's leader with 41 points, is pointless in a season-high nine straight games.