WASHINGTON (AP) - Dmitry Orlov pump-faked and passed instead of shooting, turning down his best chance at a hat trick.
After the Washington Capitals beat the Carolina Hurricanes 6-1 on Monday night to extend their point streak to 14 games, Alex Ovechkin joked that while everyone tells Orlov to shoot more, he prefers to dish the puck like Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom.
“Russian Lidstrom,” Ovechkin said with a smile.
Orlov’s all-around game has a long way to go to resemble Lidstrom’s, but the defenseman - dubbed a “high-event player” by general manager Brian MacLellan - was high event in a good way with two goals against Carolina. Teammates told him at the second intermission to go for his first career hat trick, but he played the third period a lot like, well, Lidstrom would have.
“He wanted to go out there and make the right play,” said defenseman Karl Alzner, who had two assists. “A couple nice shots by him and just calm, poise, making good plays. This is the confident Orly. It’s fun to watch.”
The Capitals are fun to watch right now because they’re scoring like crazy. In addition to Orlov doubling his goal output for the season, Justin Williams, Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller also scored for Washington, which has won three in a row and scored 44 goals in its past eight games.
Beyond the rock-solid goaltending of Braden Holtby, who made 25 saves, balanced offense has been a key to Washington’s run.
“We got all four lines rolling and with our depth and our ability when every line’s going, we’re tough to stop,” said Oshie, who’s second to Ovechkin on the team in goals with 18. “Things are going well right now.”
It’s not going so well for Carolina, which has lost four in a row, all to Metropolitan Division opponents. Jordan Staal scored the only goal for Carolina, which struggled defensively in front of goaltender Cam Ward as he allowed six goals on 25 shots.
“There’s a lot of work left to be done,” coach Bill Peters said. “We were playing well heading into it and (have) come off it a little bit, so now we’ve got to get ourselves regrouped.”
The Capitals have scored four-plus goals in eight consecutive games, and Orlov was a key to that Monday in his first two-goal game since March 2, 2014. That was before a left wrist injury cost the promising 25-year-old the entire 2014-15 season.
“It took a year to really get up to speed and now you’re seeing what probably you might have saw last year, had he not missed a year,” coach Barry Trotz said. “You always know the offensive instincts - he’s got the big shot - but what I like about it is he’s managing the situations much better.”
Orlov brushed off the Lidstrom comparison from Ovechkin and said, “I just try to be myself.” That’s working just fine for the Capitals right now as Orlov has 23 points, six shy of his career high set last season with 35 games to go.
NOTES: Capitals C Nicklas Backstrom has 17 points during his career-best 10-game point streak. … Washington’s hot power play cracked Carolina’s league-leading penalty kill and has nine goals in eight games. … Capitals D John Carlson missed his fourth consecutive game with a lower-body injury and could be held out through the upcoming All-Star break. Trotz said Carlson was progressing well and that there was a slight chance he’d play Thursday at New Jersey. … Ward started for the 22nd time in 24 games.
Hurricanes: Host the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday in their final game before the All-Star break.
Capitals: Philipp Grubauer starts in the second half of their back-to-back series Tuesday at the Ottawa Senators.
Follow Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/SWhyno.
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