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game recap

Wideman's big night powers Caps past Leafs 4-2

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:50 AM

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Wideman's big night powers Caps past Leafs 4-2
Toronto Maple Leafs 2, Washington Capitals 4
Three Stars of the Game
Dennis Wideman
1st
G: 2Shots: 3
A: 2Hits: 2
PTS: 4PIM: 0
+/-: -1TOI: 25:47
Nicklas Backstrom
2nd
G: 1Shots: 4
A: 1Hits: 0
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: 0TOI: 20:54
Alex Ovechkin
3rd
G: 0Shots: 8
A: 1Hits: 1
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: -1TOI: 20:42
Dennis Wideman had the greatest night of his NHL career on Friday. Just how great it was depends on whom you ask.

The official postgame scoresheet said the veteran defenseman scored three power-play goals for the first hat trick of his NHL career and assisted on another extra-man goal by Nicklas Backstrom as the Washington Capitals beat Toronto 4-2 for their third win in four games.

Wideman didn't dispute that he had four points, but he contended that the third goal isn't his.

"The third one went in off Brooskie [Brooks Laich]. I'm pretty sure that one's going to come back," Wideman said after the first multigoal performance of his 481-game NHL career. He set off a cascade of hats onto the ice when his screened slapper from the left point beat James Reimer with 1:19 left in regulation.

For his part, a laughing Laich wouldn't say whether Wideman's shot hit him.

"Don't want to talk about that," he said.

The NHL agreed a day later, switching the goal from Wideman to Laich and taking away what would have been the first hat trick by a Washington defenseman since Sergei Gonchar had one on Jan. 4, 2000, and just the third in the regular season by a Caps blueliner since the team entered the NHL in 1974.

Either way, it was the night of a lifetime for Wideman.

"Dennis is a smart player and he knows when to pass and when to shoot and he was bang on tonight with it," said Caps coach Dale Hunter, who is now 3-3-0 in his NHL coaching career. "It’s all decisions to make for a good power play. You have to read the defense just like a quarterback does. So he shot some and he passed some, great decisions by him."

The Caps (15-12-1) came into the game with the NHL's 22nd-ranked power play at 15.2 percent and mired in a 3-for-51 slump, but took advantage of a Toronto penalty-killing unit that was 28th at 76.0 percent to win for the third time in four games.

Phil Kessel and Cody Franson scored for the Maple Leafs (15-11-3), who lost for the second straight game; they allowed six power-play goals on 10 tries in the back-to-back losses.

"We kind of shot ourselves in the foot tonight," Reimer said. "I thought we really out played them. We just took a few too many penalties."

The Caps appeared to be in control after Wideman's perfect pass from the top of the right circle found Backstrom in front for an easy tap-in at 18:50 of the second period with one second left on a 5-on-3 advantage for a 3-1 lead.

"We were working it around pretty good," Wideman said. "I had some opportunities on the 5-on-3 and I got that pass in the slot, I was thinking I could maybe get one, and then I saw Nicky open on the back door and I had to give it to him."

But after the Leafs killed off an interference penalty to John-Michael Liles midway through the third period, they made it a one-goal game with 6:44 remaining in regulation when Cody Franson barely kept the puck in at the right point and slung a wrister at the net. The shot went through traffic and past a screened Tomas Vokoun, who finished with 26 saves.

However, Joey Crabb accidentally high-sticked John Carlson with 2:14 remaining, and the Caps answered with their fourth power-play goal in just six chances. It was Washington's first game with four power-play goals since an 8-2 win against Philadelphia on Dec. 5, 2009.

But Wideman insisted -- correctly, as it turned out -- that the goal wasn't his.

"I've never had one before. Still haven't had one," he said after the game when asked about getting his first hat trick.

Washington opened the scoring at 12:33 of the opening period on its first power play of the night. With rookie Jake Gardiner in the box for slashing, Wideman ripped a wrister from well inside the right circle past Reimer for his fourth goal of the season and first since Nov. 1.

It became 2-0 at 1:49 of the second period, 11 seconds after the Leafs were penalized for having too many men on the ice, when Wideman wound up for a straightaway 50-foot slapper that went through traffic and past Reimer.

Kessel regained a share of the NHL's goal-scoring lead at 12:52 when he wristed a rebound off Vokoun and into the net for his 18th goal, tying him with Ottawa's Milan Michalek for the most in the League.

Leafs coach Ron Wilson said the reason for the loss was simple.

"Five-on-five, I thought we controlled and at times dominated the game," Wilson said. "We didn’t have much puck luck the way some of the things bounced around the net -- but bad penalties, undisciplined penalties did us in tonight, simple as that."

Material from team media was used in this report
scoring summary
1st Period
12:33
WSH
PPG - Dennis Wideman (4) ASST: Mike Knuble (6), Nicklas Backstrom (20)
1 - 0 WSH
2nd Period
01:49
WSH
PPG - Dennis Wideman (5) ASST: Alex Ovechkin (12), Brooks Laich (12)
2 - 0 WSH
12:52
TOR
Phil Kessel (18) ASST: Tyler Bozak (12), Joffrey Lupul (20)
2 - 1 WSH
18:50
WSH
PPG - Nicklas Backstrom (11) ASST: Dennis Wideman (13), Alexander Semin (6)
3 - 1 WSH
3rd Period
13:16
TOR
Cody Franson (3) ASST: NONE
3 - 2 WSH
18:41
WSH
PPG - Brooks Laich (7) ASST: Dennis Wideman (14), John Carlson (15)
4 - 2 WSH
penalty summary
1st Period
04:35
WSH
Joel Ward  Closing hand on puck
12:00
TOR
Jake Gardiner  Slashing against  Alexander Semin
17:22
TOR
Luke Schenn  Roughing against  Jason Chimera
17:22
WSH
Jason Chimera  Roughing against  Luke Schenn
2nd Period
01:38
TOR
Matt Frattin  Too many men/ice - bench
10:30
WSH
Alexander Semin  Hooking against  Tim Connolly
16:51
TOR
Colby Armstrong  Hi-sticking against  Alexander Semin
18:12
TOR
Joey Crabb  Boarding against  Dmitry Orlov
3rd Period
10:13
TOR
John-Michael Liles  Interference against  Joel Ward
17:46
TOR
Joey Crabb  Hi-sticking against  John Carlson
19:45
TOR
Dion Phaneuf  Roughing against  John Carlson
19:45
WSH
John Carlson  Roughing against  Dion Phaneuf
goalie stats
James Reimer
SA: 25TOI: 59:04
Saves: 21EV: 12 - 12
PIM: 0PP: 9 - 13
SV%: .840SH: 0 - 0
Tomas Vokoun
SA: 28TOI: 60:00
Saves: 26EV: 24 - 26
PIM: 0PP: 2 - 2
SV%: .929SH: 0 - 0