As we celebrate the Capitals' 40th anniversary, let's take a moment to...
Wideman Tells Fans to Take Their Hats Back
To change the stat or to not change the stat, that is the question.
For the fans who threw hats on the ice after Dennis Wideman‘s presumed first hat trick, the answer is obvious. The man behind the celebration isn’t convinced.*
“The third one went off Brooksy, so I’m pretty sure that one’s gonna come back,” said the defenseman.
Brooks Laich, who was on the ice for all of Washington’s goals in the 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, didn’t offer any clues. In response to a question about the last goal allegedly being his, the center, who frustrated the Leafs’ top line for most of the night, shrugged his shoulders and smiled, “I don’t know. I don’t want to talk about that.”
Regardless of who’s goal it is, the Caps are happy to have the momentum back. Every goal came on the power play, which went from a struggling 15.2% to 18.1% (an improvement of 19%, now 12th league-wide).
Laich’s screen proved vital in front of the Leafs’ star goalie, James Reimer, who played his third game since returning after suffering a concussion at the hands (or elbow) of Brian Gionta in late October. Nicklas Backstrom‘s second-period five-on-three goal came with the help of Laich crowding Reimer’s crease.
“We were due for a little bit of luck, I think,” said Laich, “We’ve had a tough go a bit on the power play. To shoot pucks, we’ve said it, try and simplify things a little bit.”
If not for Reimer’s play, Alex Ovechkin might’ve been able to add to his stats, as he and Backstrom created a first-period chance that could have led to a goal for either player. A semi-breakaway in the second period had the captain spewing Russian explicits at the sky.
When not working on the offensive, Ovechkin made sure to make a mark defensively, blocking three shots on one shift, including one that sent him to the bench with a limp right hand. Despite the obvious pain, Ovechkin returned to the ice the next shift.
The third period might have been the weakest for the team, as the Leafs, at one point, were outshooting the Caps. Cody Franson brought Toronto within one as Washington slipped to a 3-2 lead. But the home team, one of six that remains undefeated when leading in the third, tightened up enough to end the scoring there.
In the end, it was the power play that saved the team, “We make a couple mistakes but when you make mistakes and when you score power plays goals it kind of give you a little to breath,” said Ovechkin, “But we just have to keep going.”
*At the time of publication, Wideman still has a hat trick.