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Capitals 7, Panthers 1

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WASHINGTON -- Seven different players scored goals and Braden Holtby calmly steered aside 29 of 30 shots Thursday night as the Washington Capitals routed the injury-plagued Florida Panthers 7-1 in front of an announced sellout crowd at Verizon Center.

With the win, the Capitals are 8-3-0 after a 2-8-1 start and have moved two points moved past the Panthers in the Eastern Conference standings with 21 points.

The Panthers, on the other hand, lost for the 11th time in 14 games. And they'll need to turn around and face the Winnipeg Jets at home Friday.

During their 8-3-0 stretch the Capitals have scored 41 goals, including 17 in three wins against the Panthers.

After an emotional come-from-behind win over the Boston Bruins two nights earlier the Capitals wanted to avoid a letdown and the Panthers wanted to build on their impressive 4-1 win in Winnipeg.

Panthers goaltender Jacob Markstrom, recalled from San Antonio March 3 after an injury to Jose Theodore, looked strong in that win over the Jets but the 23-year-old Swede lasted just 3 minutes, 10 seconds against the Capitals, allowing two goals on the first two shots he faced. Florida coach Kevin Dineen yanked him for veteran Scott Clemmensen.

The move backfired when the Capitals scored goals on two of their first six shots against Clemmensen.

It all started just 1:58 into the game when Washington defenseman John Erskine bombed a shot from the blue line that bounced off the right pad of Markstrom and under his right arm.

When Wojtek Wolski stuffed in a wraparound to make it 2-0 just 72 seconds later, Dineen brought in Clemmenssen, who had given up nine goals in his previous two appearances.

The Capitals were no kinder to Clemmenssen. After a faceoff win by Nicklas Backstrom, defenseman John Carlson blasted a slapshot past Clemmenssen for his fourth goal of the season and a 3-0 lead at the 5:38 mark.

Washington made it 4-0 on its eighth shot of the game when Mike Ribeiro teed up a pass from Alex Ovechkin from the left circle for his ninth of the season, tying him with Troy Brouwer.

When Panthers forward Tyson Strachan took a five-minute major for a blindside hit on Capitals forward Jason Chimera midway through the second period, the Caps padded their lead on Ovechkin's ninth of the season and sixth on the power play.

Eric Fehr kept the rout going when he scored his sixth of the season and first on the man-advantage with 4:08 gone in the third period.

The Panthers ruined Holtby's shutout bid 10:49 into the third period when Jack Skille wristed a shot inside the left post for his third goal of the season.

Mathieu Perreault finished the scoring when he beat Clemmenssen with 59 seconds remaining.

NOTES: Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau entered the game leading all NHL rookies with 11 goals. The Panthers were without Theodore, forwards Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg and Scottie Upshall, and defensemen Ed Jovanovski, Mike Weaver, Michael Caruso and Dmitry Kulikov. ... The Capitals were without defenseman Mike Green and forward Brooks Laich. ... The Capitals have been outscored 45-37 in the first two periods, but had outscored opponents 27-17 in the third. ... The Capitals return to action Saturday afternoon when they visit the New York Islanders in the first half of a back-to-back set that concludes Sunday at home against the New York Rangers. The Panthers return home to face the Winnipeg Jets on Friday for the start of a three-game homestand that continues with games against the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning.
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