Semin leads Caps past ‘Canes

Published 9:56 am Thursday, November 13, 2008

By By JOEDY McCREARY, AP Sports Writer
RALEIGH — Alexander Semin had two goals and three assists to move take the NHL scoring lead, and the Washington Capitals routed the Carolina Hurricanes 5-1 on Wednesday night to take sole possession of the Southeast Division lead.
Alex Ovechkin had a goal and two assists, and Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and three assists for the quick-starting Capitals. They led 3-1 after one period and cruised to their third straight victory.
Mike Green added a goal and an assist for Washington.
Scott Walker scored on the power play for Carolina, which was outscored 10-3 in losing two straight at home. The Hurricanes have lost three of four to fall two points behind Washington.
The Capitals dominated from start to finish, and Semin had a hand in all five goals. He scored his 13th on a one-time feed from Ovechkin midway through the second period to move one ahead of Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek.
Semin has 27 points, three more than Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin. He had his second multigoal game in six days against the Hurricanes, giving him 17 career goals against Carolina — his most against any team.
Jose Theodore stopped 13 shots over the final two periods in relief of Brent Johnson, who made 13 saves but appeared to injure his groin late in the first and did not return after the break, though no injury was announced during the game.
Michael Leighton had 32 stops for Carolina in place of Cam Ward, who gave up five goals Sunday against Atlanta.
Washington’s two Alexes first teamed up about 5 minutes in to put the Capitals up 1-0.
Semin stole a cross-ice pass at the blue line, skated down the right side and fed Ovechkin, who deked and then beat Leighton with a forehand for his fourth goal of the season and 18th of his career against Carolina. The Capitals’ young star now has as many goals in two games (two) as he did during his first 11.
Semin added his first goal 5 minutes later. Green’s slap shot off a draw missed the net and caromed off the back boards to Semin, and he whipped the puck hard and high past Leighton.
Carolina’s only goal came on a similar sequence with about 8 minutes left. Joni Pitkanen’s wide slap shot bounced to Walker, who scored from the right of the net.
Green made it 3-1 roughly 2 1/2 minutes later, beating a screened Leighton with a slap shot on the power play.
Notes: Before the game, the Hurricanes sent C Dwight Helminen back to Albany to make room for Sutter. … Pitkanen was one of three injured players returning to Carolina’s lineup, joining C Brandon Sutter and C Matt Cullen. … The Capitals lead the season series 2-0.