Thrashers vs. Capitals Preview
WASHINGTON D.C. - After a tepid start, Alexander Semin kicked off his current goal scoring binge with a hat trick at the Verizon Center against the Atlanta Thrashers.
Following an end to their longest winning streak of the season, the Washington Capitals hope to get a similar performance from Semin in the same venue as they try for a ninth straight home victory over the Thrashers on Sunday.
Semin had career highs of 40 goals and 84 points in 2009-10, but recorded just two goals and three assists in his first seven games this season. In the past 10 contests, though, he's scored 10 times with seven assists.
Oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGlobal.com have made the Capitals –235 money line favorites in Sunday's game against the Thrashers. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 80% of more than 1,125 bets for this game have been placed on the Capitals -235.
That's helped Semin take over the team's goal scoring lead from two-time MVP Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin, who has nine goals this season, has one more point than Semin with 23.
That lead might disappear if Semin can duplicate his recent efforts against the Thrashers. In his past 12 meetings with Atlanta, Semin has 10 goals and 11 assists.
Semin also enters this matchup on a seven-game points streak, after assisting on Karl Alzner's goal midway through the first period Saturday against Buffalo. The Capitals' failed to win their seventh straight game after falling 3-2 in overtime.
"At least we're happy about one point," said Nicklas Backstrom, who made it 2-2 with just under 13 minutes to play in regulation.
The Capitals (12-4-1) have won 13 of 16 overall against the Thrashers (7-7-3), but Atlanta has given its Southeast Division rivals all it can handle in two meetings this season.
The Thrashers opened the season with a 4-2 home victory over Washington on Oct. 8, and nearly stole another win Oct. 23 at the Verizon Center despite Semin's heroics.
After Semin tied the game with his third goal, Evander Kane scored with 32.9 seconds left. Tomas Fleischmann scored 97 seconds into overtime to give Washington a 4-3 victory.
The Thrashers enter this game having gone 1-3-1 in their last five, and they allowed Pittsburgh to score three third-period goals in Saturday's 4-2 loss.
"We gave them all we could give them and created our chances," coach Craig Ramsay said. "We just gave up a couple of bad goals."
Ramsay's team suffered a scare in its season opener against the Capitals when goaltender Ondrej Pavelec fainted in the first period and suffered a concussion after his head hit the ice.
Pavelec is 0-7-0 with a 4.33 goals-against average in his last eight starts against Washington. Chris Mason, meanwhile, is 4-0-1 with a 2.25 GAA in six all-time matchups.
Michal Neuvirth could get a chance for a season-high fifth straight win for the Capitals. He's 4-1-0 with a 2.60 GAA in his career against Atlanta.
Ovechkin has 28 goals and 32 assists in his 38 matchups with the Thrashers, his most against one opponent in his career. However, he has one assist in this season's two meetings, and had his eight-game points streak snapped Saturday.
Check out the latest odds for this game and all 2010 NHL Odds.