WASHINGTON (AP) — Alex Ovechkin was 4 months old the only time the Washington Capitals started a game with a quicker four-goal outburst than they produced Thursday night.
What a way to start: four goals on eight shots in less than 8½ minutes.
John Erskine, Wojtek Wolski, John Carlson and Mike Ribeiro all scored while Ovechkin chipped in two assists during that perfect beginning before adding a goal later, and the Capitals climbed out of a tie for last in the Eastern Conference by beating the Florida Panthers 7-1 Thursday night.
"Of course, it's a little bit luck," the 27-year-old Ovechkin said. "But we need that kind of luck right now."
The Capitals, citing the Elias Sports Bureau, said the 8-minute, 10-second spree represented the second-fastest four goals to start a game in team history. Washington accumulated four within 6:49 of the opening faceoff against the Minnesota North Stars on Jan. 21, 1986.
"We wanted to jump on them early," Ribeiro said. "We were able to do that."
Florida's Jacob Markstrom allowed two goals on two shots and was pulled after 3 minutes, 10 seconds — the fastest yanking of an NHL goalie for something other than an injury in more than a year, according to STATS LLC.
"I don't like to hang out anybody to dry, but obviously I don't think Jacob Markstrom was ready to play tonight," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said.
Markstrom's replacement, Scott Clemmensen, didn't fare much better, giving up two goals in the first six shots. Asked about that performance, Dineen said: "It's easy to hang him out to dry, but you know what? If you're the starting guy, you've got to be the go-to guy."
When Dineen's comments about not being ready to play were relayed to Markstrom, the goalie pursed his lips tightly, shrugged his shoulders and did not reply, ending his 75-second interview session with reporters.
Here is what Markstrom did offer earlier: "I don't know what to say. I couldn't stop the puck in the first two shots or whatever, first 3 minutes. No excuse for that. It was terrible. I feel like I let the team down. I'm there to stop pucks and I didn't do that tonight."
Ten players each earned at least a point in Thursday's four-goal outburst. Late in the first period, Ribeiro pulled back at the end of a forward rush, content to perform the hockey equivalent of dribbling out the clock in basketball. The red-wearing fans saluted the home team with a standing ovation as the period expired.