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 consecutive 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 last 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 of Sunday's game; 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 rumours. 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 2 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 10 1/2 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...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 defenceman 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 defencemen 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."
Notes: The Capitals' first-period scoring streak ended at 16 games, two shy of the team record set in 1988-89. ... Capitals D Tom Poti was a late scratch because of a groin injury. ... Washington C Nicklas Backstrom's 10-game point streak ended.