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Dennis Wideman’s hat trick powers Capitals win

Dennis Wideman, Alex Ovechkin

Washington Capitals defenseman Dennis Wideman, left, celebrates his goal with teammate Alex Ovechkin (8), of Russia, during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Friday, Dec. 9, 2011, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)


I’ve developed the habit of calling Dennis Wideman a poor man’s Mike Green, but he accomplished something that high-scoring blueliner has never managed* on Friday night. Wideman scored his first career hat trick (along with an assist) as the Washington Capitals beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2, drawing Dale Hunter’s coaching record to 3-3.

In a way, it was a night of good news accompanied by reality checks.

All four of Washington’s goals came on the power play (they went 4-for-6), which is the kind of explosiveness normally expected from this offense. On the other hand, it cannot be ignored that the Leafs sport one of the worst penalty kill units in the NHL.

Tomas Vokoun held an explosive Leafs offense to just two goals, yet he apparently gave one of his teammates “the stink eye” after one of the tallies.

Alex Ovechkin is starting to look more like his old, ever-dangerous self as he fired eight shots on goal, registered an assist and created some tantalizing chances. He didn’t find the net with any of them, though, and managed a -1 rating (which is actually quite forgivable since every Washington goal came on the man advantage).

Finally, there’s the big picture view. The Capitals won three out of their last four games, but those wins came against Ottawa (twice) and a struggling Toronto team. There’s nothing wrong with taking an uplifting feeling away from this game, but we’ll learn more about Washington when they face the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

Here’s video of Wideman’s hat trick. (Feel free to split hairs regarding whether or not that last goal should have gone to someone else.)

* Katie Carrera reveals that Sergei Gonchar was the last Caps D-man to score a hat trick. That happened on Jan. 4, 2000.