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Erskine's late goal lifts Caps over Thrashers

Nov 15, 2010 - 3:34 AM
Washington, DC (Sports Network) - John Erskine notched the go-ahead goal late in the third period as Washington blew a trio of two-goal leads but downed Atlanta, 6-4, at Verizon Center.

Alex Ovechkin, David Steckel and Mike Green each posted a goal and assist for the Capitals, who have won seven of their last eight games and have registered at least one point in 10 of their last 11 outings (9-1-1).

Michal Neuvirth was shaky at times, but picked up the win with 23 stops.

Bryan Little tallied twice while Andrew Ladd and Rich Peverley added a score each for the Thrashers, who have lost five of their last six.

"It's good that we came back like that but we can only do it so many times and not get a win," Little said. "Sooner or later we have to find a way to win those games. Instead of having to crawl back into the game, we need to have a better start."

Starter Chris Mason was pulled after yielding four goals on 16 shots through 22-plus minutes. Ondrej Pavelec took the loss by allowing the game-deciding tally on 16 shots.

Erskine put the Capitals ahead with 6:49 left in regulation, as he took a drop pass from Steckel in traffic and hammered a shot high and inside the left post for a 5-4 contest.

Neuvirth turned away several good chances in the final five minutes and Atlanta went with an extra skater with over a minute to play.

Steckel, though, put the clincher into an empty net with 36.3 seconds remaining.

Washington got on the board at the 90-second mark, when Ovechkin's harmless left-circle chance deflected off Mason's goal stick and trickled over the line.

Green made it 2-0 at 9:43 on a power play when his chance from the right circle changed direction off a body in front and sailed by Mason.

Atlanta picked up a power-play score with 6:46 to play, as Tobias Enstrom's blistering point shot deflected off the glass, onto the top of the net, off Neuvirth and in thanks to a late Peverley poke.

The Caps went up 3-1 with 1:03 left in the first, when Ovechkin laid a perfect lead pass for Alexander Semin, who moved around a Mason poke check and slid a backhander into an open net.

Ladd's sharp-angle score 1:12 into the second drew the Thrashers within one, but the two-goal lead was restored when Mason mishandled a rebound from Matt Hendricks at 2:23.

Pavelec spelled Mason in net and just 44 seconds later Little made it 4-3, then Atlanta tied the game at the nine-minute mark on a short-handed rush. Ladd broke in alone, and while Neuvirth stopped the shot, the rebound fluttered in the air where Little batted it home.

"I don't know what it is, I don't know why we have those mental lapses," Green said. "If we're going to be successful in the playoffs, we can't have that. It's something we need to work on over the course of the year."

Game Notes

Washington has taken two of three over Atlanta this season, and has bested the Thrashers 12 of the last 14 times since November 26, 2008...Tyler Sloan picked up two assists for the Capitals, who host Buffalo on Wednesday...The Thrashers also play Wednesday, hosting division-rival Florida.