Atlanta Thrashers (3-3-0-6, 3rd SE) v. Washington Captials (4-3-0-8, 2nd SE)
7:00 pm, Verizon Center, Washington DC

After home and home losses to the Boston Bruins this week, the Washington Capitals look to get back on the right track against a young and improving Atlanta Thrashers squad. 

Washington has won seven straight games against Atlanta at Verizon Center, dating to Feb. 2, 2008. The Capitals have averaged 4.43 goals per game in that stretch.

Matthieu Perrault at Caps practice this morning.
The Caps, struggling on offense this week, limited to two goals in two games with the Bruins, and struggling with nagging injuries, recalled forwards Matthieu Perrault and Jay Beagle from AHL Hershey today.  The two players are expected to dress for tonight's matchup.

How that shakes up the lines is anybody's guess at this point.  At this morning's pre-game skate, all Caps forwards wore white practice jerseys and did not do line rushes, concentrating more on two-man drills.

Center Marcus Johansson did not practice and is not expected to play, joining walking wounded Matt Bradley and Boyd Gordon, who has been MIA all week, with no description of why the veteran forward is sitting, except for Coach Bruce Boudreau saying "He's healthy but we've decided to give him a few days here."

Johansson has what Boudreau described as a hip flexor injury, sustained against Boston Thursday night.  Boudreau expects him back next week.

In Thursday's loss, Boudreau had Johansson on the second line with Alexander Semin and Brooks Laich, while Tomas Fleischmann centered Eric Fehr and Jason Chimera.  Flash's chemistry with Fehr makes them a good tandem, and Perrault might find himself slipping into Johansson's place on the second line.

D.J. King skated with the coaches following practice, so it's a good bet he'll be a healthy scratch tonight, with Beagle stepping into his slot on the fourth line with David Steckel and Matt Hendricks.

Of course, that's all speculation.

Mike Green winces after taking a shot in practice.
Defenseman Mike Green took full practice with the team this morning, but was still in obvious discomfort shooting the puck.  Boudreau said Green will take the pre-game skate tonight and will be a game-time decision.

Semyon Varlamov was the first goalie off the ice at practice, so it's likely he'll start in goal for the Caps tonight.

Atlanta enters play tonight losers of two in a row themselves, dropping a 4-1 loss to Buffalo Wednesday and a 5-2 decision to division rival Tmapa Bay last night.  Both games were at home for the Thrashers.

Goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who fainted and sustained a concussion in their home opener against the Caps (a 4-2 Atlanta win) has not played since the event, but passed his concussion test and could return soon for the Thrash.  Chris Mason has handled the bulk of the work between the pipes, going 3-4-0 with a 3.47 GAA and .908 save percentage.

Atlanta is led by center Anthony Stewart with four goals, and LW Andrew Ladd has two goals and five assists in a strong start. 


ATL:  LW Andrew Ladd (2-5-7, +2), D Dustin Byfuglien (2-4-6, -4), Chris Mason (3-4, 3.47, .908)
WAS:  LW Alex Ovechkin (4-4-8, -1), D John Carlson (1-5-6, +1), G Semyon Varlamov (0-1-0, 2.91, .896)


ATL:  C Nik Antropov (hip-out), D Zack Bogosian (shoulder-out), F Patrice Cormier (foot-out), G Ondrej Pavelev (concussion-QUE)
WAS:  D Mike Green (shoulder-QUE), RW Matt Bradley (LBI-out), C Boyd Gordon (undisclosed-OUT), C Marcus Johansson (hip-out)


ATL:  GF/G: 2.71 (T-14th), GA/G: 3.57 (30th), PP: 21.2% (8th), PK: 73.5% (28th)
WAS:  GF/G: 2.71 (T-14th), GA/G: 2.57 (T-12th), PP: 13.3% (18th), PK: 89.7% (9th)

Jay Beagle returns to the Caps' roster.

Matt Bradley practiced but will miss his fourth straight game tonight.