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Brooks Orpik returned to the lineup on Tuesday night at Verizon Center and played a role in the Capitals 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Orpik missed 40 games and his last appearance came on Nov. 10 in a 1-0 loss to the Red Wings in Detroit.
Orpik was paired with Dmitry Orlov. “I thought they were very good,” Barry Trotz told reporters after the game. “I thought they might have been our second best pairing. I thought (Matt) Niskanen and (Karl) Alzner were solid. After that I thought Orpik and Orlov was definitely pretty strong for us.”
Orpik was on the ice for a total of 16:43 and he showed no signs of rust. He registered five hits, two blocked shots and had a secondary assist on the Caps first goal of the game scored by Andre Burakovsky. “He looked good,” Trotz added. “He made some plays. I didn’t see what I thought might be some rust; I didn’t see a lot of that because I think a veteran player manages the game very well. He made some great outlet passes; there was no panic in his game. It was nice to have a big body like that to throw around some of their big bodies because they (the Kings) get to the net really well. I thought that was an element in our back-end that we could use and you can see why he’s so important to us.”
The assist by Orpik on the Burakovsky goal marked his fourth point of the season with one goal and three assists. Orpik started practicing with the team again two weeks ago, which led to his return to game action. “Conditioning was fine,” said Orpik. “That’s never usually a problem with me. It’s more just the timing on certain plays and you can go as hard as you want in practice. It gets ramped up a little bit more when you’re playing against guys that are playing a lot harder against you than your teammates do in practice.”
The Caps got the game-winner with 2:02 remaining with a goal by Evgeny Kuznetsov. The goal was assisted by former LA King, Justin Williams with a great feed from the back of the net. An empty net goal by Jason Chimera sealed the 3-1 win.
The Capitals will travel to Brooklyn, New York for a road contest against the Islanders tomorrow night. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.
By Michael Marzzacco