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Thrashers open season with 7-4 win
Atlanta Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen stops a shot from Washington Capitals’ Brooks Laich (21) during the first period Friday in Atlanta. - photo by John Bazemore

ATLANTA — Bryan Little had two goals, including the go-ahead score in the third period, and the Atlanta Thrashers beat the Washington Capitals 7-4 on Friday night.

Capitals goalie Jose Theodore didn’t make it through the second period of his debut with the team, giving up four goals before he was pulled. However, Mike Green scored two goals on one power play in the second period as the Capitals rallied from deficits of 3-1 and 4-2 for a 4-4 tie.

The tie held until the Thrashers scored two goals in a span of 29 seconds in the third period.

The 20-year-old Little, who scored one of Atlanta’s three first-period goals against Theodore, gave Atlanta a 5-4 lead with a shot from the right circle with 6:03 left in regulation. Colby Armstrong also beat Washington backup goalie Brent Johnson with another shot from the right circle. Todd White scored on a pass from Ilya Kovalchuk later in the period.

Washington star Alex Ovechkin was held without a point.

Kari Lehtonen stopped 39 shots for Atlanta.

Atlanta, playing its first game under new coach John Anderson, opened strong. The Thrashers scored the first three goals of the first period, including scores by Ron Hainsey and Marty Reasoner, two of the team’s eight players added since the end of last season.

Little also scored for a 3-0 lead against Theodore, the 2002 NHL MVP with Montreal who was Washington’s only offseason addition.

Alexander Semin answered with a goal late in the period for the Capitals, and David Steckel scored a short-handed goal in the second period, tipping in a rebound of Tom Poti’s shot, to cut Atlanta’s lead to 3-2.

The 32-year-old Theodore, who signed a two-year, $9 million contract with Washington, was pulled after giving up Slava Kozlov’s goal at the 9:30 mark of the second period, only 20 seconds after Steckel’s goal.

The Capitals, trailing 4-2 after Kozlov’s goal, took advantage of a 4-minute high-sticking penalty against Reasoner midway through the second period to tie the score.

Green scored on a pass from Michael Nylander as Thrashers defender Garnet Exelby lost his stick. Green scored again less than a minute later on Semin’s assist for a 4-4 tie.Notes: The Capitals had a 43-31 edge in shots on goal. ... Lehtonen deflected Ovechkin’s penalty shot 4:01 into the third period. The shot was awarded after a Thrashers defender closed his hand on the puck in the crease. ... D Zach Begrosian became the youngest player in Thrashers history to appear in a regular-season game. Begrosian, the team’s first-round pick, is 18 years and 87 days old. Kovalchuk was 18 years and 172 days old when he made his debut on Oct. 4, 2001. Begrosian earned the first penalty of the game for holding after he had been on the ice only 24 seconds. The rookie’s game ended when he was pounded by Washington’s Donald Brashear in the final seconds as Brashear earned a penalty for roughing.

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