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Capitals rout Islanders 7-2 for seventh win in a row

by Brian Compton

UNIONDALE , N.Y. -- Turns out there is more than one "Alex The Great" on the Washington Capitals.

On a night when the only damage Alex Ovechkin did was to Jack Hillen's face, Alexander Semin scored a pair of goals as the Caps won their seventh straight in a 7-2 dismantling of the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday night.

Washington (34-12-6) will look to make it eight in a row when it begins a three-game homestand on Wednesday night against the Anaheim Ducks. The Islanders, meanwhile, have lost two in a row on home ice after winning their previous six games on Long Island. New York (23-22-8) visits Carolina on Thursday.

"I'm touching wood all the time," Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Hopefully it can continue. Things are going well right now. Four lines are rolling."

Both of Semin's tallies came during Washington's four-goal first period, one that chased Isles' goalie Dwayne Roloson at the conclusion. Despite the fact the Caps scored seven goals in this one, Ovechkin -- an annual Hart Trophy candidate -- didn't factor into any of them, going scoreless in 10 shots on goal while having four others blocked.

"They are in a groove," Boudreau said of his club. "I think whether you're a first-place team or you're 30th, at some point of the season things just seem to be working or clicking. Right now, they're clicking for us. We score seven goals, and Ovi doesn't even get a point. It says you've got good balance on the team."

Washington needed only 65 seconds to get on the scoreboard, as Brendan Morrison gave the Caps a 1-0 lead with his first goal since Dec. 23 -- a span of 15 games. After Morrison won a faceoff in the Islanders' zone, John Erskine ripped a slap shot from inside the left point that Morrison redirected past Roloson for his 11th goal of the season.

Semin doubled Washington's lead at 4:49 when he easily got around Isles winger Trent Hunter and fired a wrister from the left circle past Roloson for his 22nd goal of the season.

"They've got a dynamic offensive team," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. "You can't make any mistakes against them. Even when it looks like you have coverage, they just have that ability to make those plays."

Rob Schremp cut the deficit in half on the power play at 6:03. After Morrison went off for hooking, Schremp took a pass from Doug Weight and let go a ridiculous snap shot that somehow beat Jose Theodore up high to make it 2-1. It was Schremp's sixth goal of the season.

The Caps, however, scored twice in the final 1:47 of the period and took a 4-1 lead into the first intermission. Mike Knuble took advantage of a holding penalty against Sean Bergenheim as he whacked his own rebound past Roloson at 18:13 before Semin made a nifty move on Bruno Gervais en route to his second goal of the night with 5.2 seconds left.

"That goal he scored was pretty dynamic," Boudreau said of Semin's second tally. "There's not too many people that can do that. He's got so much skill."

Roloson was replaced by Rick DiPietro at the start of the second period. He allowed four goals on 12 shots. It didn't matter.

Erskine ended a 110-game scoring drought just 2:36 into the second, as he skated into the slot untouched, where he took a cross-ice feed from Eric Fehr and fired a low wrist shot past DiPietro to make it 5-1. Erskine hadn't scored since Jan. 19, 2008.

Kyle Okposo cut it to 5-2 when he tallied his 12th goal of the season at 9:35 of the second. Okposo -- who has points in eight of 11 games this month -- was left all alone in front of the net, where he one-timed a feed from John Tavares past Theodore. But Jason Chimera restored the Caps' four-goal lead less than four minutes later when his wrister from the right circle beat DiPietro at 13:58.

Brooks Laich scored the lone goal of the third period when he snuck in between Gervais and Mark Streit before flipping one over DiPietro at 14:52. It was his 15th goal of the season.

"It's nice that when Ovie doesn't get it done, the other guys can get it done," Chimera said. "I think we've got four lines that can play really good hockey. It's nice when other guys can do it. He seems to be scoring three or four a night."

Hillen left the game with 2:31 left in the first period after taking an Ovechkin slap shot to the face. Hillen left a pool of blood on the ice but was able to skate off to the dressing room. He was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation.

"When I saw it hit him, it was kind of a delayed reaction on Jack's part," Gordon said. "Obviously once he went down, I knew it wasn't going to be good."

Theodore also left the game after the second period with what the Capitals are calling a lower-body injury. He is day-to-day. Michal Neuvirth stopped all 11 shots he faced in the third.

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