WASHINGTON – Peter Bondra made a successful return to Washington, scoring the opening goal and adding two assists to send the Atlanta Thrashers on their way to a 7-3 victory Friday night over the Capitals.

Atlanta, shut out in a season-opening loss to Florida, scored its first four goals Friday on power plays. Marc Savard had a goal and his 200th career assist, Marian Hossa had a goal and two assists, and Bobby Holik, Jaroslav Modry, Eric Boulton and Vyacheslav Kozlov also scored.

Bondra, Modry and Boulton were signed as free agents this offseason, while Hossa came over from Ottawa in the Dany Heatley trade.

Mathieu Biron, Brian Willsie and Andrew Cassels scored for Washington, which was outshot 39-22. Jeff Halpern had his fourth assist of the season, and 2004 No. 1 overall draft pick Alexander Ovechkin recorded his first assist after scoring twice in his NHL debut Wednesday.

Bondra received loud applause during pregame introductions, and it didn’t take him long to show why he was a fan favorite during his 14 years with the Capitals.

With 11 seconds left on a power play, Bondra tapped a loose puck past goalie Olie Kolzig 6:24 into the game. The goal gave Bondra at least one against every NHL team; he hadn’t scored in his lone previous game against Washington.

When the red light flashed, many in the stands cheered, perhaps out of respect or simply a reflex after all those years of saluting goals by No. 12. Another segment of the announced crowd of 13,021 responded with boos.

Bondra holds Capitals career records in several categories, including goals (472), points (825) and power-play goals (137). Washington traded him to Ottawa during last season’s salary dump, and the Capitals made him an offer during the offseason, but Bondra chose Atlanta.

Washington tied it at 7:45 of the first on a shot from the blue line by Biron, whose holding penalty left the Capitals a man short when Atlanta took the lead. There was a scrum down low, and Petr Sykora passed the puck out to Biron, who beat Mike Dunham.

Atlanta went ahead for good on Modry’s unassisted goal on a slap shot from the blue line 17:14 into the period. Modry corralled an errant clearing attempt and put it past Kolzig on the glove side.

Bondra assisted on Holik’s goal 5:03 into the second period, and it was 4-1 on Savard’s power-play goal at 10:18.

Washington cut its deficit to 4-2 at 13:21 of the second period on a power-play breakaway goal by Willsie, off a two-line pass from defenseman Jamie Heward. Atlanta went back up by three on Boulton’s goal off a pass from Greg De Vries 8:36 into the third. Washington’s final goal came from Cassels, with less than eight minutes left, and Kozlov and Hossa put in empty-netters in the last 11/2 minutes.

Notes: The last 31/2 minutes were played minus one official, because linesman Tim Nowak left after apparently getting injured. … Attendance was 3,304 lower than opening night at the 18,277-seat arena. … Atlanta GM Don Waddell met Friday in New York with the agent for holdout forward Ilya Kovalchuk, making progress on a new contract. … The teams face each other at Atlanta on Saturday. … Of Bondra’s 478 career goals, he’s scored the most against Tampa Bay: 40 in 52 games. … Washington killed all nine penalties it faced in Wednesday’s 3-2 victory over Columbus.

AP-ES-10-07-05 2147EDT


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