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Panthers Fall 5-2 in Washington

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

Jozef Stumpel scored his first goal of the season as the Panthers fell 5-2 to the Washington Capitals Wednesday night at the Verizon Center in DC.

The Cats fired 36 shots at Capitals G Olaf Kolzig, but weren't able to capitalize on more than two of those shots.

Florida returns home to take on the Flyers Friday night at 7:30pm at the BankAtlantic Center.

Caps forward Alexander Semin had a goal and an assist during Washington's five-goal first period, and the Capitals cruised past the Florida Panthers 5-2 Wednesday night.

The Capitals, who hadn't scored more than five goals in any of their first four games, tallied five in the opening 15 minutes against the Panthers. The last time Washington scored five goals in a period was on Feb. 12, 2003, in a 5-1 win at Atlanta.

Olie Kolzig had 34 saves, Jamie Heward and Matt Bradley scored unassisted goals and Richard Zednik had two assists for the Capitals.

Florida goaltender Alex Auld was removed at 12:36 after yielding four goals on 12 shots. Josef Stumpel and Nathan Horton scored power-play goals for the Panthers, who were 7-0-1 against the Capitals last season.

Washington's first two shots produced the game's first goal with 1:28 elapsed. After Zednik charged down the right side and took a shot that trickled behind Auld into the crease, Semin tapped in the rebound for his team-high sixth goal.

Stumpel tied it less than 5 minutes later, scoring his first goal of the season on Florida's initial power-play opportunity.

Washington then scored four goals in just over 7 minutes. Chris Clark started the onslaught at 7:08, and Heward made it 3-1 by scoring on a straight-on slap shot from about 5 feet inside the blue line.

Auld's night ended 39 seconds later, when Kris Beech scored off a pass from Semin. Backup goalie Ed Belfour fared no better at the outset, yielding a goal to Bradley within 2 minutes of his entering the game.

Although the Capitals rarely have the opportunity to protect a four-goal cushion, they did so masterfully in the second period, killing a 5-on-3 power play and keeping Florida scoreless despite being outshot 13-4.

Horton scored with 11:48 left off a pass from Stumpel.

Notes: The Capitals assigned D John Erskine to Hershey Bears of the AHL. ... Florida has at least one PP goal in five straight games. The Panthers came in ranked second in the NHL in PP percentage (28.6). ... Semin (6-2-8) took over the team scoring lead from Clark (2-5-7). ... Washington's Alex Ovechkin was held without a point for the first time since the opener.

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