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Thrashers take care of Capitals 3-2 in shootout

ATLANTA - Eric Perrin and Slava Kozlov scored on Atlanta's first two shootout opportunities to help the Thrashers beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 Wednesday night.

Kari Lehtonen stopped 39 shots before denying Washington's Alexander Semin and Boyd Gordon in the shootout. Lehtonen, who also had an assist, made a glove save on Gordon's shot to finish the win.

The win left Atlanta, Washington and Carolina tied for first in the Southeast Division.

The Thrashers improved to 7-4 in shootouts and 13-4 in overtime. They were only 1:21 away from winning 2-1 in regulation, but Alex Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading 48th goal from the left circle to overtime.

Marian Hossa had a goal and an assist in possibly his final Atlanta home game.

Lehtonen set up Hossa's goal in the final minute of the second period. Hossa also had an assist on Eric Perrin's goal earlier in the second.

Viktor Kozlov gave Washington a 1-0 lead early in the second. The Thrashers answered with two goals in the final four minutes of the period.

Washington seemed to be on the attack throughout the first period, outshooting the Thrashers 18-3.

Lehtonen made several strong saves in the period, including a glove save against Gordon 4:17 into the game that was upheld with an officials' review. Lehtonen's glove slid behind the line after the save.

Lehtonen's play, and Atlanta's lack of scoring opportunities, made the game resemble the teams' Feb. 2 game at Washington when the Thrashers managed only two shots in the opening period but won 2-0.

SideBar: Waddell: Top goal is to re-sign All-Star Hossa

ATLANTA - Don Waddell says he still hopes to re-sign Marian Hossa, but Wednesday night's game against Washington could be the last Atlanta home appearance for the Thrashers' All-Star forward.

The Thrashers will not play another home game until Feb. 28, two days after the NHL's Feb. 26 trade deadline. Hossa, who can be an unrestricted free agent after the season, is one of the prominent names in trade speculation.

Hossa, who scored a goal in last month's All-Star game in Atlanta, was the only player who didn't participate in the team's optional morning practice Wednesday. Waddell insisted no trade is imminent.

Waddell, Atlanta's general manager and interim coach, said he's had many calls from other executives about Hossa, but he said he has not participated in any formal trade talks concerning the right winger.

'I've had lots of phone calls. I'm best friends with a lot of guys in the league the last few weeks,' Waddell said Wednesday. 'I've told them all I have not solicited or had an offer made. I told them I don't even want to get into that at this point. Our goal has been to sign him.'

Waddell said the team has 'done all our homework' in preparing tentative trade offers. But he said it only makes sense to keep Hossa with the team as long as possible as the Thrashers compete in the tight Southeast Division.

Atlanta began the day third in the division, one point behind second-place Washington and two points behind Carolina.

Waddell said his options include re-signing Hossa, keeping the veteran on the team even if he remains unsigned, or trading Hossa for players who could help Atlanta this season and in the future. He said he hasn't decided when he would end attempts to re-sign Hossa.

'We haven't tied ourselves to a date,' Waddell said. 'Our No. 1 goal is to try to sign this player. In the meantime, we're in a big race here. He's one of our most important players. We're utilizing our players as much as we can to try to make sure we stay in contention. If you end up trading the player for a lesser player right now, it makes more sense to keep your player for as long as you can to try to establish yourself within your division.'

Hossa, 29, was acquired on Aug. 23, 2005, in a trade that sent Dany Heatley to Ottawa. He set a career high with 100 points (43 goals, 57 assists) last season but was a postseason disappointment as the Thrashers were swept by the New York Rangers in Atlanta's first playoff appearance.

Hossa has 24 goals and 25 assists this season.

Waddell said he'd be more interested in players than draft picks if he decides to deal Hossa.

'I know with all the teams I've talked to what we would be interested in,' he said. 'If we ever get to that point I'm pretty confident there would be multiple teams that would be very interested in Marian.'

Hossa already has turned down the Thrashers' offer for a four-year deal worth $28 million. He has tried to avoid commenting on his contract talks with Atlanta, but he said before the All-Star game his decision will be influenced by his confidence in the Thrashers' ability to remain competitive.

'It's not about money,' Hossa said. 'I just want to make sure I do the right decision. When I sign for long term, I don't want to sign and then we're not winning.'