WASHINGTON -- Whatever the reason -- distracted by the impending trade deadline, playing too individually instead of as a team, overlooking opponents -- the Washington Capitals suddenly are no longer dominant at home. They're rather ordinary, in fact.
And the Carolina Hurricanes were the latest visitors to take full advantage.
Carolina's Patrick Eaves scored twice, and the Hurricanes produced all sorts of goals -- penalty shot, short-handed, power play, even strength -- in a 5-2 victory Tuesday night, the Capitals' second successive lopsided loss in Washington.
"We're going through this funk right now," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It looked like there was a complete lack of energy."
The Southeast Division-leading Capitals own the Eastern Conference's best home record but now have lost four of their past six games in Washington, including a 6-2 defeat against Florida on Sunday.
Starting goalie Jose Theodore left after allowing four goals in the first period Sunday; he was a late scratch Tuesday because of the flu, and rookie Michal Neuvirth allowed four goals in the second period en route to a 5-0 deficit a day before NHL teams' last chance to make deals.
"I wish I could put my finger on it right now. I don't know if it's because of tomorrow, and people are worried, they hear rumors. I don't know," Boudreau said. "I know poor Michal didn't know he was playing until he got here tonight. Maybe that had some bearing on his ineffectiveness."
Eric Staal scored on a penalty shot, Eaves and Matt Cullen put in short-handed goals less than four minutes apart, Chad LaRose tallied during a 5-on-5, and Eaves' power-play goal made it 5-0 with about two minutes left in the second period.
"We scored in probably every way you could, and it was good," said Eaves, who entered the night with three goals in 57 games this season and nearly doubled that output in 10½ minutes. "We needed that."
A crowd of 17,903 -- ending the Capitals' home sellout streak at a record 11 games -- showered their team with scattered boos, replaced by sarcastic hootin' and hollerin' when the announcement came over the PA system that there was only a minute left in the second period.
"Tonight we got outworked. Bruce always talks about 'will and want are going to win you hockey games.' And tonight they had it, and they executed, and we didn't do it," Capitals forward Brooks Laich said. "It's not an easy thing -- we pride ourselves on our work ethic."
Alexander Semin's 100th career goal -- scored off his knees on a power play -- with three seconds left in the second period, and Sergei Fedorov's tally with less than two minutes remaining in the game were the only blemishes against Cam Ward. He finished with 39 saves.
After Fedorov's goal, he raised his arms in the air, and two teammates came over to hug him. The trio wound up on the ice, a result that replays appeared to show was a result of Fedorov losing his balance. Boudreau, however, was upset at what he thought was an over-the-top celebration for a team en route to a loss.
"That was pretty embarrassing," Washington's coach said. "I'm sure if I was on the Carolina bench, I'd be going: 'Look at these idiots.' "
Carolina went ahead 1-0 on Staal's 28th goal, which came when he was tripped from behind by defenseman Shaone Morrisonn with 34.6 seconds left in the first period.
Then came the short-handed scores. With Carolina's Joni Pitkanen off for boarding, Cullen took a pass from Tim Gleason and made his way down the ice, splitting two defensemen before lifting a shot past Neuvirth at the 3:52 mark. At 7:42, it was Eaves' turn to score while a man down, taking a pass from Cullen.
"Our guys were just skating around," Boudreau said. "Mike Green was doing nothing."
|Patrick Eaves (44) pesters goalie Michal Neuvirth all game and winds up with two goals. (Getty Images)|
|Carolina (33-27-5) «||1||4||0||5|
Save Pct.: .951
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|19:25||Eric Staal (28), Penalty Shot, Unassisted.|
|03:52||Short - Matt Cullen (20), Wrist Shot. Assist: Gleason|
|07:42||Short - Patrick Eaves (4), Wrist Shot. Assist: Cullen, LaRose|
|16:24||Chad LaRose (14), Slap Shot. Assist: Whitney, Cullen|
|18:05||Power Play - Patrick Eaves (5), Wrist Shot. Assist: Whitney, Seidenberg|
|19:57||Power Play - Alexander Semin (26), Wrist Shot. Assist: Ovechkin, Fedorov|
|18:14||Sergei Fedorov (7), Slap Shot. Assist: Semin, Morrisonn|
|02:44||Ovechkin, 2 min, Bench - Too Many Men on the Ice|
|09:40||Corvo, 2 min, Interference|
|03:37||Pitkanen, 2 min, Boarding|
|07:10||Brind'Amour, 2 min, Tripping|
|07:57||Laich, 2 min, Holding the Stick|
|16:40||Erskine, 2 min, Roughing|
|19:48||Whitney, 2 min, Holding|
|04:25||Laich, 2 min, Tripping|
|18:40||Green, 2 min, Hooking|
|19:55||Brind'Amour, 2 min, Hooking|
|Shots On Goal|
|Power Play Conversions|
|Attendance - 17903|
|Referees - Ian Walsh, Brad Watson|
|Linesmen - Thor Nelson, Vaughan Rody|