The Washington Times - December 28, 2009, 10:29PM

It was a strange day at Verizon Center for the Washington Capitals. Members of the team found out that their captain and another teammate were traded as they arrived at the buidling between 2-3 hours before their game against the last-place Carolina Hurricanes.

Without Chris Clark and Milan Jurcina (and newly acquired Jason Chimera), the Caps put forth a terrible first 20 minutes and weren’t able to recover in an ugly 6-3 defeat. Is this the worst loss of the season? Maybe.



* The Hurricanes had played 18 road games before tonight and lost 17 of them.

* The Caps have been by far the best team in the NHL this season in the first period. They’ve been better in the first than any team has been in any period — except when they play the Hurricanes. For the third time in as many games, Carolina led after 20 minutes — and this one was an unsightly 3-0 defecit for the Caps.

* The Caps were the only left in the NHL with a perfect record against their divison foes. Washington is now 8-1 against the Southeast. Fear not, the Caps retained their 14-point lead over the Atlanta Thrashers for first place.

* Carolina entered the evening nine points out of 29th place in the NHL standings and 12 points from 14th in the Eastern Conference.

* Carolina’s “leader” in plus-minus coming into this game was Tom Kostopoulos at, um, even. The Hurricanes ended up having 11 plus players on the night, highlighted by Eric Staal and Jussi Jokinen posting a +4.

With all of that said, it is tough to ridicule the Caps too much for this one. They just played maybe the two best games of their season against division leaders, so a letdown may have been unavoidable.

Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green both had a goal and an assist. They also both moved into a tie for the league lead — Ovechkin for the overall lead and Green for the most by a defenseman.

Alexander Semin had another forgettable performance. While the top line has been scoring of late, he hasn’t had a lot to do with that. Considering the second unit hasn’t been lighting it up, it might be time for another swap from Bruce Boudreau.

Jose Theodore can’t be too happy with his performance, especially after not playing for 10 days and watching Michal Neuvirth rack up back-to-back-to-back victories. It would certainly seem like Bruce Boudreau would have to go back to Neuvirth on Wednesday in San Jose. Maybe the Caps goalie situation is going to get a little more murky after all.