How long had it been since the Washington Capitals had scored a power play goal? The number almost defied comprehension. Rather than go into a long series of statistics, let’s just say that it had been a very, very, very long time. So long, in fact, that opposing teams were likely beginning to believe that there was no danger in taking a penalty when playing the Caps — after all, Washington wasn’t going to be able to score on the ensuing power play.
All that changed this evening. The Toronto Maple Leafs outplayed the Capitals statistically, winning the battle in almost every category: faceoffs, hits, takeaways, giveaways, and shots. The difference in this game was Washington’s performance on power plays. The Capitals lit the lamp on four of six power play opportunities. That’s right, four power play goals — three of them by defenseman Dennis Wideman. It’s not often that a blue liner is the source of hats pouring onto the ice, but tonight it was a thing of beauty in Washington’s Verizon Center and led to a 4-2 win for the struggling Capitals.
Washington played a solid sixty minutes, with perhaps the only complaint being that early in the third period, when up 3-1, they seemed content to play not to lose rather than continuing to aggressively skate into the Leafs’ zone. Once Toronto scored in the third to make the game a 3-2 affair, however, the Caps seemed to pour it on once again and drew another penalty — that stint in the sin bin for Joey Crabb’s high sticking offense led to Wideman’s third goal of the night.
Other performances — or lack thereof — were noteworthy. Just to name a few: Nicklas Backstrom had three points (a goal and two assists), Alex Ovechkin skated like the Alex that Washington fans have come to know and love, and Jeff Schultz was a healthy scratch for the second time in Capitals’ coach Dale Hunter’s brief tenure.
While the Capitals have a ways to go to regain all the momentum that was theirs early in this season, tonight provided a clear indication that they are capable of doing so.
Let’s Go Caps!
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