Staff photo by Jason Arthurs
RALEIGH — Washington's Alexander Semin tormented the Canes again. The forward, the NHL scoring leader, had two goals and three assists as the Capitals ripped the Carolina Hurricanes 5-1 at the RBC Center.
The Caps (9-4-2), the Southeast Division leaders, moved two points ahead of the Canes (8-5-2), who have lost the last two games and three of the last four.
"It's not a matter of systems or any design out there," Canes forward Scott Walker said. "You
have to want the puck more than they do, you have to want to get back before they get back, you have to want to get on the forecheck.
"We're just not getting it done. It's not one guy; it's everybody. We're all a step behind. It's unacceptable. We have to take a pretty long look in the mirror at ourselves."
The line of Semin, Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom combined for 12 points. Ovechkin had a goal and two assists, and Backstrom scored his first goal of the season and had three assists.
"You can tell the potential they have when they're on the top of their game," Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I think all three of them were on top of their game tonight."
Goals by Alexander Ovechkin, who had two assists, and Semin gave the Caps a 2-0 lead in the first before Walker scored for the Canes.
"It was really good to get Ovie a goal early," Boudreau said. "I think that really pumped the line up."
Semin picked off a Tim Gleason pass near the blue line and fed Ovechkin on a 2-on-1 rush for a 1-0 lead at 5:11 of the first period. Semin then scored his 12th goal of the season at 10:32 for the 2-0 lead.
The Canes answered on the power play to make it 2-1. Joni Pitkanen, back in the lineup from the knee injury, was wide left on a shot, but Walker picked up the puck on the carom off the boards and beat goalie Brent Johnson.
After a hooking penalty on the Canes' Ryan Bayda, Caps defenseman Mike Green hammered a shot past Canes goalie Michael Leighton at 14:25 for a 3-1 lead.
The Canes had 1:18 of a two-man advantage late in the first, but Eric Staal twice missed on shots with an open net. In the final seconds of the period, Johnson made a big save on Bayda to preserve the lead.
Johnson was injured on the play -- an apparent groin injury. Jose Theodore replaced him and made a big save early in the second against Staal. Theodore had 13 saves.
Semin, who has goals against the Canes in six straight games, added a second-period goal to make it 4-1.
"We gave them the first four goals," Canes coach Peter Laviolette said. "We didn't play very well after that. Once it got to that point, we didn't compete very well. It seemed like the juice just left and we just started running around, not doing much of anything."
Forward Patrick Eaves and defenseman Josef Melichar are scratches for the Canes. Among the Caps' scratches: Sergei Fedorov.
The Caps were 2-4-1 on the road this season. ... Semin at plus-13 led the NHL coming into the game.