Alexander Semin had two goals and two assists in his return from a wrist injury and the Washington Capitals hardly missed the suspended Alex Ovechkin, beating the Florida Panthers 6-2 on Thursday night for their fourth straight victory.
Ovechkin served the first of a two-game ban levied by the NHL following his ejection Monday for a knee-to-knee hit on the Hurricanes' Tim Gleason. Some fans in the sellout crowd of 18,277 held signs reading "Free Alex."
Ovechkin will be eligible to rejoin the Capitals on Monday at Tampa Bay; the Capitals are 5-1-1 this season when he's not in the lineup.
Brendan Morrison had a goal and two assists, and Tomas Fleischmann, Matt Bradley and Nicklas Backstrom also scored for Washington, which improved to 3-0-0 this season against the Panthers.
Stephen Weiss and Bryan Allen scored for Florida, which has lost six of seven. Weiss' team-high 12th goal ruined Semyon Varlamov's shutout bid with 3:22 left.
Varlamov is 6-0-2 in his last eight starts.
Scott Clemmensen subbed for injured Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun for the second straight night, but was quickly pulled from the game. Vokoun was struck in the head by teammate Keith Ballad's stick on Monday and stitches were required to repair a gash in his left ear.
Semin, who sat out the previous seven games with an injured right wrist, and Fleischmann scored midway through the first for a 2-0 lead, sending Clemmensen to the bench in favor of backup Alexander Salak.
At 10:34, Semin froze Clemmensen with a stutter-step in the right circle before flicking the puck past him for his 10th goal. A little over a minute later, Fleischmann scored from between the circles.
Bradley's short-handed tally made it 3-0 early in the second. Bradley surprised Salak with a wrister from just inside the blue line.
NOTES: Ovechkin has missed all three games against the Panthers this year, the first two while recovering from an upper-body injury in early November. ... Florida also scratched LW Kenndal McArdle (upper body injury). ... Washington D Shaone Morrisonn (concussion) missed his seventh straight game, while RW Mike Knuble (broken finger), C Boyd Gordon (back), LW Quintin Laing (broken jaw) and D Tom Poti (upper body) also sat out.
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