WASHINGTON (AP) — Carolina's Patrick Eaves scored twice, and the Hurricanes produced goals every which way — penalty shot, short-handed, power play, even strength — in a 5-2 victory over the Capitals on Tuesday night, Washington's second consecutive lopsided loss at home.
Eaves entered with three goals in 57 games this season, but he nearly doubled that output in a 10½-minute span of the second period against rookie goalie Michal Neuvirth, who started for Washington because Jose Theodore had the flu.
Eric Staal scored on a penalty shot, Eaves and Matt Cullen put in short-handed goals less than 4 minutes apart, Chad LaRose tallied during a 5-on-5, and Eaves' power-play goal made it 5-0 with about 2 minutes left in the second period.
That drew 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 period.
"It was a big win. We need these points," said Cullen, who had two assists for a three-point night. "We had a tough loss in our last game and this was a big bounce-back win, a big road win.
"We knew it was going to be a battle and we were fortunate to get a couple of big goals in that second period. Obviously the penalty shot from (Staal) was really big to get off to an early lead. We just kept coming at 'em and never let up."
Alexander Semin's 100th career goal — scored off his knees on a power play — with 3 seconds left in the second period, and Sergei Fedorov's tally with less than 2 minutes remaining in the game were the only blemishes against Cam Ward. He finished with 39 saves.
The Southeast Division-leading Capitals own the Eastern Conference's best home record but now have lost four of their last six games in Washington, including a 6-2 defeat against Florida on Sunday. Now this.
"That was pretty embarrassing," Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I'm sure if I was on the Carolina bench, I'd be going, 'Look at these idiots.'"
Against Florida, the Capitals allowed the Panthers to go 3-for-3 on first-period power plays, and Theodore was replaced by Neuvirth.
This time, Washington really had problems when it had a man-advantage. Carolina really took control after it already led 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.
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.
LaRose scored at the 16:24 mark off an assist from Ray Whitney, who also set up Eaves' second goal at 18:05.
Ward and his teammates had no trouble making this lead stand up, a relief after what happened to them Saturday against Atlanta. Carolina led 3-1 in the third period before allowing four consecutive goals in what turned into a 5-3 loss for the Hurricanes — a team that needs every point it can get as it tries to earn a playoff berth.
The Hurricanes entered Tuesday tied for ninth in the Eastern Conference, one point behind Pittsburgh.