Rookie defenseman Dmitry Orlov recorded his first career NHL goal early in the third period and Tomas Vokoun turned aside a season-high 43 shots as the Washington Capitals moved into a first-place tie atop the Southeast Division with a 2-1 home triumph over the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.
Alexander Semin collected his 11th goal of the campaign for Washington, which has won three straight to claim a share of the division penthouse for the first time since Nov. 19. The Capitals, who are now 17-5-1 at the Verizon Center this season, are tied with the Florida Panthers with 50 points.
Playing in his 25th NHL game, the 20-year-old Orlov beat Cam Ward to the post and knocked in a bouncing puck at 1:12 of the third period to give Washington a 2-1 lead. Vokoun held the fort from there by stopping all 18 shots in the third to end Carolina's modest two-game winning streak.
Reigning Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner returned for the Hurricanes after being sidelined for 16 games with a concussion. The 19-year-old Skinner had one shot on goal in nearly 17 1/2 minutes of ice time.
After Brooks Laich had a potential goal disallowed due to goaltender interference earlier in the second period, Semin officially opened the scoring with 3:34 remaining in the session. The Russian's blast beat Ward to the glove side for his 13th point in 12 games.
With his team on the power play, Jussi Jokinen leveled the contest with 17 seconds left in the second period after cleaning up a rebound.