Washington Capitals Travel To Atlanta Looking For Points In Six Straight Games

Alan Zlotorzynski@@zlotsportsCorrespondent IIIJanuary 26, 2011

WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 14:  Ron Hainsey #6 of the Atlanta Thrashers battles for the puck with Eric Fehr #16 and Tomas Fleischmann #14 of the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center on November 14, 2010 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

The Washington Capitals will play their final game before the All-Star break tonight in Atlanta against the Thrashers.

The Capitals are currently on a point streak of sorts.

Washington has recorded a point in five straight games, going 3-0-2 over that span and has registered at least one point in 15 of their last 18 games with a record of 9-3-6.

This is the sixth and final meeting between these two Southeast division foes tonight. The home team has won every game except for the December 4th meeting in DC.

The Thrashers beat the Capitals 3-1 to take a 3-2 lead in the series this season.

Washington, while just 4-2-4 in their last ten games, have somehow managed to earn 12 points with just four wins. Washington, which lost just 10 games on the road last season, is 11-9-3 away from DC this season.

The Thrashers are 11-9-5 at home, but are just 3-4-3 in their last ten games.

Atlanta was beat up bad on Sunday when the Southeast leading Tampa Bay Lighting scored seven goals in handing the Thrashers their worst loss of the season.

The Bolts scored five second-period goals sparked by Nate Thompson's shorthanded goal 14 seconds into the middle stanza.

"We lost our composure after they scored that shorthanded goal. That just turned everything. We just imploded from there," Coach Craig Ramsay said. "It was very disappointing. They smelled some blood and attacked."

The Capitals, on the other hand, are coming off their seventh straight overtime loss of the season on Monday night in a shoot-out loss to the Rangers.

After starting the season 5-0 in overtime, the Caps are just 1-9 since Nov 13th. 

The Caps currently trail first place Tampa Bay by four points, but with the Lightning finishing their pre-All-Star game schedule last night, a victory tonight and the Caps would be back to within two points of the division lead. 

Head coach Bruce Boudreau speaking after the morning skate on the importance on winning tonight: "It’s important, we want to win every game and it’s the same way with them. They’re 1-4-3 in their last eight, and they’ve got Carolina nipping at their heels".

Washington’s stellar goaltending and defensive play of late continued in the loss to the Rangers on Monday. The Capitals have allowed just seven goals in the last five games and were led in the last three games by the play of 21 year old Hershey Bears call-up Braden Holtby.

The Caps are now ranked seventh in the NHL with 2.48 goals against per game. They have not finished a season ranked higher than No. 12 since the 99-00 season.

Over the last 18 games, the Capitals surrendered just 34 goals. Over that time, all three goalies have combined for a 1.76 GAA and a .941 save pct

Holtby has allowed just one goal in his three starts since his call-up, stopping 87 of 90 shots in the process. Washington is the first team in NHL history with four or more wins from three goaltenders aged 22 or younger.

While the Capitals power play continues its power outage, just nine-for-85 over their last 26 games, their penalty kill has emerged as one of the league’s best.

Ranked second behind the Penguins, the Caps kill 85.9 percent of the oppositions extra man advantages. They have killed 22 of their last 23 short-handed situations.

The Thrashers are at the opposite side of the power play spectrum. They rank eighth in the league with 38 power play goals on the season. 

The Caps power play could get healthy tonight as the Thrashers rank 29 out of 30 teams, killing just 75.6 of their short-handed situations.

The Capitals Matt Hendricks comes in to tonight's game with goals in his last two games.

Alex Ovechkin after scoring a hat trick in Saturday's win over Toronto, was held pointless on Monday night. 

The Thrashers penalty kill and defense took a big hit when they lost all-star defenseman Toby Enstrom. Enstrom broke his finger blocking a shot against the Rangers on Saturday and in the process broke his franchise record of playing in 296 straight games.

Enstrom is expected to miss two-to-four weeks.

The Capitals began the season in Atlanta with a dead performance in a 4-2 loss. A win tonight and the Caps can move into the break putting behind them a tumultuous first half.

Another loss in a close game not scoring goals would only raise questions for what many considered a disappointing first half of play from last year’s President’s Trophy Winners.