Capitals begin three-game road trip against Thrashers

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Ny Nicolino Dibenedetto

Stats Writer

Washington (48-23-8) at Atlanta (34-39-6), 7:00 p.m. EST

ATLANTA (AP) -- With the race for the best record in the Eastern

Conference over, the Washington Capitals are trying maintain

their hold on second place.

The Capitals begin their season-ending three-game road trip

looking to sweep a home-and-home set from the Atlanta Thrashers

on Tuesday night.

Washington (48-23-8) has clinched its second consecutive

Southeast Division title, but lost the battle for the top seed

in the Eastern Conference to Boston. The Capitals' focus now is

on holding onto the second spot, as they're two points ahead of

New Jersey.

The Capitals visit Tampa Bay on Thursday before finishing the

regular season at Florida on Saturday.

Washington improved its chances for the No. 2 seed Sunday,

winning 6-4 over Atlanta (34-39-6) behind four third-period

goals.

The Caps have won three of four while scoring at least five

goals in each victory, although they didn't get a goal from

Alexander Ovechkin on Sunday. Instead, six of his teammates

found the back of the net, while Ovechkin came up empty on 11

shots.

"It's great to finally have some scoring from all over the

place," said Washington right wing Eric Fehr, who scored for

only the second time in 17 games. "Ovie's been carrying the

workload pretty much all year."

Ovechkin did extend his point streak to eight games with two

assists against the Thrashers. The All-Star left wing has six

goals and 11 assists in that span, and leads the NHL with 55

goals. He's second with 106 points, two behind Pittsburgh's

Evgeni Malkin.

Ovechkin will try to close that gap Tuesday. He has 23 goals and

47 points versus the Thrashers - his highest totals against any

team.

Ovechkin has 14 goals and 11 assists in 14 games at Philips

Arena, but has been held without a point in two games there this

season - both losses.

Washington was outscored 12-5 in those road defeats to the

Thrashers, but won the other three meetings at home.

Atlanta is looking to rebound from Sunday's loss that snapped a

four-game winning streak. Three of the victories came against

playoff contenders.

"We kept up for two periods," Thrashers defenseman Tobias

Enstrom said, "and it seemed like we got a little tired in the

third and they ran us down a little bit."

The Thrashers may be eliminated from playoff contention, but

Ilya Kovalchuk continues his hot play. The All-Star left wing

has a goal in six of the last seven games, and 21 goals and 19

assists in the last 23. He's been held without a point only

three times in that stretch.

Kovalchuk is fourth in the league behind Ovechkin with 42 goals

and scored a goal in each of the last two meetings with

Washington.

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