It was an uncommon feeling, one that Kolzig would certainly love to experience far more often.
Kolzig finished with 34 saves, but his job became vastly easier after the Capitals scored five goals in the opening 15 minutes to take a 5-1 lead.
"We took advantage of our chances in the first period and created some breathing room," Kolzig said. "As a goalie, that's what you like to see, because if you make a mistake it's still a three-goal lead."
The Capitals, who hadn't scored more than five goals in any of their first four games, received points from eight different players. The last time Washington scored five goals in a period was on Feb. 12, 2003, in a 5-1 win at Atlanta.
"It was a great first period. We had our legs and executed well," Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said. "When it got to 5-1, I was hoping it was going to get to 6-1, to be honest with you."
It's hard to fault Hanlon for being greedy, but no further offense was needed from Washington after the opening 20 minutes.
Florida goaltender Alex Auld was removed at 12:36 after yielding four goals on 12 shots. But Panthers coach Jacques Martin cited the players in front of Auld for those unsightly numbers.
"We didn't play a bad period, but when we made turnovers they seemed to capitalize," Martin said. "I don't put any blame on the goalie. I think the goalies have been making some saves to hide the fact that we were making too many turnovers."
"We knew they were going to come out and work hard. We learned that last year," Florida center Chris Gratton said. "They just dominated the first period. A couple of turnovers, and they buried their chances."
Washington's first two shots produced the game's first goal with 1:28 elapsed. After Zednik charged down the right side and took a shot that trickled behind Auld into the crease, Semin tapped in the rebound for his team-high sixth goal.
Stumpel tied it less than five minutes later, scoring his first goal of the season on Florida's initial power-play opportunity.
Washington then scored four goals in just over seven minutes. Chris Clark started the onslaught at 7:08, and Heward made it 3-1 by scoring on a straight-on slap shot from about five feet inside the blue line.
Auld's night ended 39 seconds later, when Kris Beech scored off a pass from Semin.
"The first period, right through the lineup, everybody -- including myself -- just wasn't good enough," Auld said.
Backup goalie Ed Belfour fared no better at the outset, yielding a goal to Bradley within two minutes of entering the game.
Although the Capitals rarely have the opportunity to protect a four-goal cushion, they did so masterfully in the second period, killing a five-on-three power play and keeping Florida scoreless despite being outshot 13-4.
"They came at us pretty hard in the second period. They had their chances to make it close," Kolzig said.
Horton scored with 11:48 left off a pass from Stumpel.
The Capitals assigned defenseman John Erskine to the Hershey Bears of the AHL. ... Florida has at least one power-play goal in five straight games. The Panthers came in ranked second in the NHL in power-play
percentage (28.6). ... Semin (6-2-8) took over the team scoring lead from Clark (2-5-7). ... Washington's Alexander Ovechkin was held without a point for the first time since the opener.