ATLANTA – Alex Ovechkin scored his third goal of the game 6 seconds into overtime to power the Washington Capitals to a 3-2 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on Friday night.

Ovechkin stole an apparent victory from Atlanta by scoring the tying goal with only 30 seconds left in regulation. He took the puck from Niclas Havelid following the faceoff to open overtime and scored the unassisted goal.

The hat trick gave the Washington star 21 goals for the season.

Jean-Pierre Vigier gave Atlanta a 2-1 lead with less than 6 minutes left in regulation.

The Thrashers suffered their fourth straight loss and fell to 4-1 against Washington this season.

Brent Johnson, starting ahead of Olie Kolzig for the second straight game, made 28 saves for the Capitals.

Jon Sim scored Atlanta’s first goal.

Vigier, who had a second-period scoring attempt nullified by a teammate’s incidental contact with the goalie, scored his fourth goal in the third on a wrist shot from the right circle. The shot skimmed between Johnson’s legs.

There was no apparent carry-over from the last meeting between the teams on Nov. 22 in Washington, a 4-2 Thrashers win that included nine major penalties for fighting. Washington’s Donald Brashear was suspended for three games, while teammate Brian Sutherby and Atlanta’s Scott Mellanby each earned one-game suspensions.

Even the coaches were involved as Washington’s Glen Hanlon and Atlanta’s Bob Hartley were fined $30,000 and $10,000, respectively, for shouting at each other from the benches and after the game.

On Friday night, Brashear drew a 2-minute penalty for roughing about three minutes into the game, but the officials prevented minor skirmishes from escalating.

Ovechkin gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead with a a power-play shot past Kari Lehtonen from the right circle in the first period.

Atlanta also used a man advantage to pull even in the second period. Sim’s power-play goal went under Johnson’s glove 11:08 into the period tied the 1-1.

The Thrashers’ attempted to take the lead late in the period, but Vigier’s would-be goal was disallowed due to incidental goal contact by Atlanta’s Eric Boulton. There was no penalty on the play.

Notes: Washington F Richard Zednik missed his fifth game with a groin injury. … Atlanta captain Scott Mellanby returned from the flu. … The Capitals have outscored opponents 37-24 in the first period, including 13-3 in their last eight games.

AP-ES-12-15-06 2223EST


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