Semin nets hat trick in Caps win

Alexander Semin scored three times in a 4:29 span of the second period for his NHL-high third hat trick of the season, and Semyon Varlamov made 17 saves in the Washington Capitals’ 6-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.

John Carlson, John Erskine and Tom Poti also scored to help the Capitals extend their Southeast Division lead over the Lightning to six points.

Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin each assisted on Semin’s last two goals.

Varlamov made his second start after missing more than a month because of groin injury.

Tampa Bay was trying to win six straight for the first time since an eight-game streak in 2004.

Tampa Bay was trying to win six straight for the first time since an eight-game streak in 2004.

All three of Semin’s goals came from near the bottom of the left circle. He started his scoring binge at 6:52 of the second period on a 2-on-1 break, scoring off Marcus Johansson’s cross-ice pass.

Semin struck again at 8:56 on a power play after a pass from Backstrom found him low in the left circle. The score gave the Capitals a 4-0 lead and led Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher to make a goalie change, replacing starter Mike Smith with Dan Ellis.

After another pair of Tampa Bay penalties gave Washington a two-man advantage. Backstrom sent a cross-ice pass through the crease and Semin received it below the circle. He buried the shot without hesitation for his 17th of the season, pumping his fist after the score at 11:21. During the post-goal delay to clean hats off the ice, Semin was featured on the video scoreboard and broke into a broad grin when he looked up.

Semin’s scoring wasn’t the only thing the fans had to cheer about in the second period. Late the period Washington penalties gave Tampa Bay a two-man advantage for nearly 1 1/2 minutes. The Capitals safely weathered the penalties and the fans gave them a standing ovation as the teams returned to even strength.

Carlson gave Washington the lead early in the opening period, scoring on a slap shot from the top of the right circle off a faceoff win by Johansson.

Erskine scored at 4:38 into the second period when his long shot bounced off of Smith’s shoulder onto the goalie’s skate and into the net.

Poti scored the final goal at 14:46 of the third period.

NOTES: Washington RW Mike Knuble returned a week after a puck to the face broke his jaw and kept him out for three games. D Mike Green missed his second straight game with an undisclosed injury. The team lists him as day-to-day. … The Capitals recalled D Brian Fahey from Hershey of the AHL. He earned his first career point with an assist on Erskine’s goal. … The Lightning played street hockey in front of the White House on Friday morning.