WASHINGTON – Dmitry Orlov broke a third-period tie with his first NHL goal, and the Washington Capitals moved into a tie for the Southeast Division lead with a 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.
The rookie defenseman, playing in his 25th game, put in the rebound after a shot by Jason Chimera at 1:12. Orlov was all smiles as he was wrapped in a hug from Chimera and received congratulations from the rest of the team as he made his way along the bench.
The Capitals, struggling so mightily that they fired coach Bruce Boudreau in late November, have won three straight overall and seven in a row at home, moving them even with the Florida Panthers for the top spot in the division with 50 points.
Washington is 12-9-1 since Dale Hunter replaced Boudreau and hasn't trailed at home since Dec. 13. It's helped, however, that the three opponents on this homestand were all playing the second half of a back-to-back.
Alexander Semin also scored for the Capitals, and Tomas Vokoun made 43 saves.
Jussi Jokinen broke his 25-game goal-scoring drought for the Hurricanes, who had won two straight to climb out of the division cellar. Cam Ward made 22 saves.
The Hurricanes welcomed back last season's rookie of the year Jeff Skinner, who sat out 16 games with a concussion sustained Dec. 7 at Edmonton. Skinner led the team with 12 goals and 24 points at the time of his injury.
The first period had no goals and only one penalty — for delay of game — and Ward kept it scoreless when he got his right arm in the way of Joel Ward's point-blank shot early in the second.
Washington's Brooks Laich managed to stuff a shot past Cam Ward a few minutes later — while tripping over the goaltender's right leg as the puck trickled off the post and into the net. The contact caused Ward to lose track of the puck, and the goal was disallowed after a video review.
Semin scored the first goal that counted — and his 11th of the season — late in the second, beating Ward with a shot just under the crossbar from the right circle.
Jokinen ended his dry spell on a power play in the final seconds of the second period. Vokoun was sprawled on the ice when he somehow stopped a close-range shot by Alexei Ponikarovksy, but Jokinen was there for the rebound for his first goal since Nov. 20 and fifth of the season.
After Orlov's goal, Tuomo Ruutu came close to tying the game for the Hurricanes, putting the puck off the post midway through the third.
NOTES: The Capitals are 8-2 against Southeast teams this season, the top record in the division. ... A sign of Washington's defensive mindset under Hunter: The team has had 30 or fewer shots on goal in each of its last 14 games.
Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP