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Brouwer, 3rd line lead Capitals past Carolina 5-2

Washington Capitals' Jason Chimera (25) celebrates his goal against the Carolina Hurricanes with teammate Julien Brouillette (59) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, April 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) Photo:

Washington Capitals' Jason Chimera (25) celebrates his goal against the Carolina Hurricanes with teammate Julien Brouillette (59) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, April 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Troy Brouwer scored two goals and the Washington Capitals routed the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 on Thursday night.

All three members of Washington's third line - Joel Ward, Jason Chimera and Eric Fehr - each had a goal and two assists. They helped the Capitals claim an easy win in this Metropolitan Division matchup of teams knocked out of the playoff race.

Braden Holtby stopped 36 shots for Washington, which won its third straight after losing five in a row.

This one came one night after the Capitals learned they would miss the postseason for the first time in seven years.

Jiri Tlusty scored a short-handed goal, Radek Dvorak added a late goal and Anton Khudobin finished with 16 saves for the Hurricanes.

Playing their home finale, they lost their third straight - their seventh losing streak of at least three games this season.

Tlusty briefly made things interesting when he pulled the Hurricanes within a goal at 2-1 by finishing on a short-handed 2-on-1 rush at 17:16 of the second period.

It was all Capitals after that.

Brouwer restored Washington's two-goal lead with 35.1 seconds left in the second when he one-timed a cross-ice feed from Marcus Johansson past Khudobin.

Fehr made it a three-goal game 2:25 into the third and Brouwer stretched it to 5-1 62 seconds later by slipping the puck between Khudobin's legs for his 25th goal of the season.

Both teams were playing their first game since being eliminated from the playoff chase.

These meaningless late-season games are new to the Capitals, who until now had made the postseason every year since 2007.

The Hurricanes are certainly used to this.

They're out of the playoffs for the fifth straight year - the longest active streak in the Eastern Conference - and the seventh time in eight years since they won the Stanley Cup in 2006.

And with nothing on the line for either team except pride - and in an arena almost completely devoid of energy - this game quickly took on a rather loose feel.

Ward started the scoring with an easy goal 62 seconds in when he sent the puck into an open net. Chimera made it 2-0 at 10:58 of the second when he skated along the end line and slipped the puck under Khudobin's right leg.

NOTES: Washington has won four straight at PNC Arena and improved to 14-5-3 in the series since 2010-11. ... The Hurricanes' season award winners were announced before the game, with the players voting Manny Malhotra the Steve Chiasson Award winner for determination and dedication, and local writers selecting D Andrej Sekera as the team MVP.

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Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joedyap

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