With each game he’s played this season, the confidence inside Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov is beginning to grow and on Sunday it sprouted into full bloom.
Orlov logged a season-high 21:08 alongside Mike Green, scored his first goal of the season and finished a plus-2 on the scoresheet in the Capitals’ incredible 5-4 shootout victory over the Flyers.
His goal, a rocket from the point that sailed through Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossman and past goaltender Steve Mason, closed the Caps to within 4-3 and set the stage for Alex Ovechkin’s game-tying goal with 48 seconds remaining in regulation.
“It’s a huge goal for him,” Ovechkin said. “I think he’s played very well for us. He’s playing with confidence and he’s probably one of the top guys out there right now. Maybe he’s going to get in future Olympics.”
Orlov, 22, has played in seven straight games since being inserted into the lineup on Nov. 30. His strong play allowed the Caps to re-assign rookie defenseman Nate Schmidt to the Hershey Bears.
“It’s fun to see,” Capitals left wing Marcus Johansson said. “He’s so good with the puck. When you’re playing with confidence you make the right plays. He’s a great player and he’s fun to watch.”
While Orlov has been excellent on the offensive side of the red line, Capitals coach Adam Oates says there is still room for improvement in the Caps’ defensive end.
“I’ve seen the offensive plays, I’ve seen the shot,” Oates said. “The more he plays correct in our end the more he’ll be a regular player. He’s got the ability to be a real good hockey player and we want consistency in our end.”
In other news, defenseman John Erskine logged 12:50 of ice time, most of it in the first two periods, in his first game back from rehabbing his left knee.
“I felt a little gassed, but other than that, it was good,” Erskine said.
Caps center Michael Latta left the game in the third period with what the Capitals called a lower body injury but Oates said he expects Latta to be at practice Monday at 11 a.m. at Kettler.