Series (Game 4 of 5)

Washington leads 3-1

Game 1: Friday, October 26th
Game 2: Saturday, November 10th
Game 3: Thursday, December 6th
Game 4: Saturday, December 15th
Game 5: Tuesday, January 22nd

Jets 2

(6-20-2, 18 pts)

Capitals 5

(14-14-0, 33 pts)

7:00 PM ET, December 15, 2001

Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia

1 2 3 T
WPG 1 1 02
WSH 2 1 25

J. Jagr (Capitals - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

P. Bondra (Capitals - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

A. Oates (Capitals - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

Atlanta winless in last seven games

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Jaromir Jagr smiled wryly when asked if his two-goal game signaled the end of a prolonged scoring slump.

Jagr scored for the first time in 10 games and the Washington Capitals beat struggling Atlanta 5-2 on Saturday, extending the Thrashers' winless streak to seven games.

"Ask me the same question after two weeks," Jagr said after the Capitals reached .500 for the first time since Oct. 26.

"It's my job to score goals. I've had confidence that sooner or later, it's going to come," Jagr added. "The big thing is to get back to .500."

Patrik Stefan scored twice for Atlanta, on an 0-5-2 skid. The points were his first in five games since spending five games in the minors.

"It seems we just can't finish," Stefan said. "I finally had the big game. I scored two goals, but we lost so it means nothing for me."

Peter Bondra tallied twice and Joe Reekie also scored for the Capitals, who are 8-3-3 in their last 14 games and 7-1-1 in their last nine at home.

Washington is 2-0-1 in its last three games and improved to 6-0-1 lifetime against the Thrashers at MCI Center.

The Capitals evened their record at 14-14-5, the first time they have been at .500 since a 1-0 loss in Atlanta nearly two months ago left then 5-5-1.

"We worked hard the last month to get here and now that we're here we can't relax," Washington coach Ron Wilson said. "We've got to make a little push here before our three-day break for Christmas."

Goaltender Craig Billington, starting his first game since Nov. 27 because Olaf Kolzig is out with a sprained right ankle, made 23 saves for his first victory since March 24, 2001.

Jagr scored his 10th goal 7:38 into the first period, pulling his own rebound away from goaltender Milan Hnilicka and pushing it past him.

After Stefan redirected Chris Tamer's shot from the right point at 12:08, Reekie teed up a slap shot from the left point for a 2-1 Caps lead at 19:24, notching his first goal since Jan. 19, 2001, 58 games ago.

Stefan's second goal of the game tied it 3:53 into the second period. Trailing a rush into the Capitals' zone, Stefan collected a loose puck after Ilya Kovalchuk was hip-checked out of the play by Reekie and beat Billington high and to the stick side.

Bondra restored the Washington lead at 8:01 of the second period with his 20th goal. Dmitri Khristich's try from the right post bounced off Hnilicka, then caromed in off Bondra, who was tied up at the left post.

In the third period, Jagr and Bondra each scored their second goal of the game to pad the lead.

The Thrashers aren't dwelling on another disappointing loss, but they realize they have to eliminate errors.

"We continue to put ourselves in difficult positions and when we make mistakes it costs us," coach Curt Fraser said. "There's got to be a time or point somewhere where we learn from these mistakes."

Game notes
Hnilicka, who was 2-0-2 lifetime versus the Capitals, has faced 30 or more shots in 19 of his 23 games. ... G Corey Hirsch was an emergency recall from AHL Portland to back up Billington. Wilson expects Kolzig to be ready for Wednesday's road game at Florida. ... Washington played without C Andrei Nikolishin (bruised left leg) and LW Dainius Zubrus (groin strain). ... LW Tommy Kallio returned to the Thrashers after missing six games with a mild concussion.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press