Glen Metropolit broke a 2-2 tie after Holik's goal evened the score, and Atlanta halted a four-game losing skid. Ilya Kovalchuk added a late goal and Shane Hnidy scored his first of the season to help the Thrashers improve to 4-0 against the Capitals.
Washington's Jakub Klepis had a goal and an assist one game after scoring his first goal of the season. Matt Pettinger added a goal but couldn't prevent the Capitals from losing their season-high fourth straight.
Washington's frustrations boiled over in the final minutes with several fights after an initial scuffle between Shaone Morrisonn and Atlanta's Steve Rucchin. The last brawl, between Washington's Jamie Heward and Scott Mellanby, drew a standing ovation. It took four faceoffs before order could be restored.
Johan Hedberg got stronger in goal as the game went on, stopping 11 Washington shots in the third period and finishing with 24 saves. Olaf Kolzig made 28 saves for the Capitals, but Atlanta benefited from two quirky deflections.
After Hnidy's goal early in the second made it 2-1, Holik tied it 5 seconds into Atlanta's first power play of the period. He won the resulting draw from the left circle and fed Kovalchuk, whose slap shot from the left wing deflected off Holik's stick and past Kolzig.
Less than a minute later, Metropolit scored on his own rebound, knocking it out of the air and into the net from just outside the crease, giving the Thrashers the lead at 13:01 in the second. The play was reviewed to check for possible high-sticking, but the goal stood.
Pettinger opened the scoring at 10:01 in the first on Washington's first power play, taking Klepis' pass and wristing it to Hedberg's stick side.
Klepis made it 2-0 at 5:03 in the second when Hedberg failed to clear the puck from behind his net. Boyd Gordon reached the loose puck and fed Klepis, who one-timed it into the top corner.
Notes: Washington LW Alexander Semin missed his second consecutive game with a shoulder injury sustained against Carolina last Friday ... Atlanta D Niclas Havelid also missed the game while attending to family issues in Sweden ... Atlanta D Andy Sutton had an assist in his 400th career game.