WASHINGTON (AP) — It's been 21 years since the Washington Capitals have won this many games in a row. It's also been a while since the NHL has had a team that can score goals quite like this.
The score-at-will Capitals made it look easy once again Wednesday night, scoring three times in 2½ minutes early in the third period in a 5-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.
"The guys like what they're doing — and they like winning," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We talked about it in the dressing room in between periods — we're going to go after them. We've got a good thing going. Let's just take it right to 'em and see where it leads."
Shaone Morrisonn, Mike Knuble and Alexander Semin scored on consecutive shots to break open a tie game, helping the Capitals win their eighth straight — their best run since an eight-game streak in 1988-89.
Alex Ovechkin scored his 34th goal in the first period and had two assists in the third, while Semin added another goal — his 25th of the season — on a 5-on-3 power play in the third. Semin has six goals and eight assists in seven games.
Since Ovechkin became captain on Jan. 5, Washington has won 11 of 12 games and scored at least four goals in all but one of them. The Capitals are averaging 3.83 goals per game — more than a half-goal better than any other team — and are on pace to become the league's highest scoring team since the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1995-96.
"When you're behind, you always know you have a chance to catch up," Boudreau said. "Some teams when they get behind and the scoring is tough, then they go, 'How are we going to get two goals?' And I think we have the ability to do that."
Michal Neuvirth, the goalie by default because of injuries to Jose Theodore and Semyon Varlamov, made 30 saves for the Capitals. Theodore sustained a lower-body injury during Tuesday night's win over the New York Islanders, while Varlamov has been sidelined since early December by knee and groin injuries.
Dan Sexton scored for the Ducks, who have lost three of four on their season-high six-game trip. Jean-Sebastien Giguere, making his first start since Jan. 3, held steady until Morrisonn's shot deflected off Steve Eminger's left skate to start Washington's onslaught.
"It's a little frustrating, because after that first goal in the period, it seemed like we just went flat. It felt like everybody just kind of quit," Giguere said. "We were still in it. It was an unfortunate bounce off Steve's skate, but these things are going to happen. It would have been important for us to come back and re-establish ourselves after that goal. But for some reason we didn't seem to have the energy anymore to fight it off."
Ovechkin, held without a point against the Islanders, needed only 36 seconds to score against the Ducks, but it was the third-period spree that settled the game.
First came Morrisonn's goal, his first in nearly a year. Ovechkin did most of the work on Knuble's goal, making a stellar move down the right side before making the pass. Semin's first goal was a breakaway, set up by a three-line pass from Brooks Laich.
"You want to get the first one out of the way and keep going from there," said Morrisonn, who last scored on Feb. 22, 2009. "We want to get more offense from everybody."
That's a scary thought for future Capitals opponents.
"They're very comfortable playing the game the way they played it tonight," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "That's their game. And they played it to a T."
NOTES: The Capitals are two wins shy of the franchise record 10-game winning streak set in 1983-84. ... Washington took a season-high 49 shots. ... Ovechkin has scored the first goal of the game a league-high 11 times. ... With Theodore and Varlamov hurt, the Capitals recalled Braden Holtby from Hershey of the AHL to back up Neuvirth and assigned D Karl Alzner to Hershey. ... The Ducks were playing in Washington for the first time since Dec. 8, 2006, when they won, 6-1. ... The Capitals have scored in 21 of 23 periods. They had a run of 12 scoring periods in a row before the Ducks shut them out in the second period. ... Capitals D Brian Pothier returned after missing six games with a broken left hand. ... Boudreau, still mastering the art of eloquent speaking, mangled his words after the game while talking about a hit by Ovechkin. "A hit a lot of times can be such a crowd-getter-into-er," said Boudreau, who paused and chuckled. "That's not even English. You know what I'm talking about."