The Washington Capitals set their opening night roster yesterday, but not before making several personnel moves, including a few surprises.

In the day's biggest transactions, goaltender Brent Johnson was claimed off waivers and impressive 19-year-old defenseman Mike Green was sent to the minor leagues.

Only a week ago, General Manager George McPhee appeared to be content with his two net-minders -- starter Olie Kolzig and backup Maxime Ouellet -- and was leaning toward keeping Green.

But Ouellet struggled during the preseason, yielding 18 goals in four preseason games and posting a 4.93 goals against average and 0.835 save percentage. Ouellet remains on the Capitals' roster and will likely be on the bench during tonight's season opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets at MCI Center. But Johnson, 28, will be Kolzig's full-time backup and could get as many as 20 starts.

Johnson, who earns $525,000, had been with Vancouver. He has played five years in the NHL with St. Louis, Detroit and Phoenix and has a career 77-53-13 record in 152 games, a 2.28 goals against average and .904 save percentage.

Green, meantime, had been one of the Capitals' bright spots during training camp. But the puck-moving defenseman's performance was uneven at times, particularly in his own end.

"Mike will be back," McPhee said. "He had an excellent camp, and we anticipate that this will be a short-term move."

The Capitals also demoted right wing Miroslav Zalesak and defensemen Jakub Cutta and Lawrence Nycholat to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League. Green will also play there.

Zalesak's contract allows him to return to Europe if he does not play in the NHL, but he indicated to the Capitals yesterday that he would report to Hershey. Zalesak, Nycholat and Cutta cleared waivers yesterday.

Another unexpected move was the one that didn't happen. Defenseman Mathieu Biron, who had been the least impressive blueline player during camp, is among the eight defensemen Washington kept.

Capitals Notes: Right wing Chris Clark will start the season on injured reserve, retroactive to Sept. 21. He has a rib injury and is listed as day-to-day. . . . The team announced its radio partner, WTNT-570, will broadcast all 82 regular season games.