Caps score early, often in rout of Hurricanes

Raleigh, NC ( - For the first time in seven years, the Washington Capitals aren't gearing up for the playoffs.

Eliminated on an off-day, the Capitals responded with their biggest offensive output in six weeks.

Troy Brouwer had two goals and the Capitals beat the Carolina Hurricanes, 5-2, for their third straight win, though the late-season streak won't do them any good.

The Capitals were eliminated from playoff contention for the first time since the 2006-07 season after Detroit and Columbus clinched the last two spots in the Eastern Conference.

"It still feels better winning than losing," said Capitals coach Adam Oates. "We talked about it this morning that we just have to be pros and play. You gotta do it for yourselves, for each other and for the people who pay and expect to see you perform. The guys played hard and that's all you can do."

Washington scored at least five goals for the first time in 20 games -- the longest it's gone this season between such games.

Joel Ward, Jason Chimera and Eric Fehr also scored and each player had two assists. Braden Holtby had 36 saves as Washington wrapped up a perfect three- game road trip.

The Capitals will finish their regular season at home against Chicago on Friday and Tampa Bay on Sunday.

Jiri Tlusty and Radek Dvorak scored for the Hurricanes, who have lost three in a row, and Anton Khudobin gave up five goals in 21 shots.

"We just have to forget about this game today and with full energy go and play (the rest of our games) the right way," said Khudobin. "That wasn't my best game. You have to get over it."

Carolina played its last home game of the season and will finish with games at Detroit on Friday and Philadelphia on Sunday.

Ward scored 62 seconds into the game, switching from his backhand to his forehand in front of Khudobin to draw the goaltender out of position and beat him in between his left pad and the post.

Chimera scored 10:58 into the second period for a 2-0 Washington lead, but Carolina got on the board when Tlusty finished off a shorthanded 3-on-2 rush with a one-timer into an open net after Holtby came out to face Jordan Staal on the other side.

Brouwer restored Washington's two-goal lead with 36 seconds left in the middle period, scoring on a one-timer from the left circle off a cross-ice pass from Marcus Johansson.

Fehr scored on a wrist shot from the right circle 2:25 into the third period that beat Khudobin inside the far post, and Brouwer got his second of the game just 1:02 later on a shot from the slot to give the Capitals a 5-1 lead.

It was the first time they scored five goals since their first game back from the Olympic break on Feb. 27, a 5-4 win over Florida.

Dvorak's rebound goal with 1:52 remaining capped the scoring.

Game Notes

The Capitals finished 2-2-1 against Carolina this season ... Johansson had two assists ... Both teams were 0-for-1 on the power play.