The Florida Panthers scored on two of three power plays in the first period to put the Capitals in an early hole.
All five Panthers on the ice touched the puck in the sequence ending with the Cats first goal, scored by Stephen Weiss (10) with assists from defensemen Dmitry Kulikov and Brian Campbell.
Just 13 seconds later Mike Santorelli broke into the Capitals zone and fired an uncontested shot past a surprised Michal Neuvirth for his fourth tally of the season. Assists were awarded to Kulikov and Mike Weaver.
Later, Troy Brouwer was called for interference with Kulikov, and the defenseman made him pay on the ensuing power play with his third marker of the season, with assists from Weiss and Campbell.
40 seconds later the Capitals closed the lead to 2, as Mike Knuble beat Scott Clemmensen with a surprise slapshot from the right point for his third goal of the season, unassisted.
The period ended with the Panthers starting their fourth power play of the night, and the second will start with 1:54 left in the man advantage.
Shots: Florida, 11-9
Hits: Florida, 10-8
Faceoffs: Florida: 14-12
Score: Florida 3, Washington 1