For years, Tom Wilson has served as the undisputed enforcer on the Capitals. It used to be his primary role.
But since expanding his offensive game and becoming a key cog in the Capitals' goal-scoring production, Wilson has been wiser about picking his battles.
Wilson hadn't dropped the gloves since Dec. 16 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, but that changed in Wednesday's rivalry game against the Philadelphia Flyers with two fights.
WILSOOOOONNNN pic.twitter.com/Ja9xZoDG0o— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) March 5, 2020
After Philadelphia's Nate Thompson drove Wilson into the boards during a chase for the puck, the Capitals forward sprung to his feet ready to scrap. The officials tried to intervene, but Wilson and Thompson weren't deterred and dropped the gloves.
The two exchanged right-handed jabs while fighting for leverage. Wilson landed the majority of the swings exchanged before Thompson brought Wilson to the ice to diffuse the fight.
During the closing stages of the second period, Wilson and Robert Hagg exchanged blows in an even scrum before the Capitals' enforcer brought the Flyers defenseman to the ice. Hagg came to the defense of his team's captain, Claude Giroux, after Wilson delivered a hit on the forward.
Willy don't hurt me... no more.— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) March 5, 2020
-Hagg, probably pic.twitter.com/ws2qfAtEKH
There's always intensity when these two longtime rivals square off. But this game carried an added weight with the playoff implications attached, as the Capitals entered Wednesday night with a three-point lead over the Flyers for the metropolitan division lead.
With the heightened intensity of the game, Wilson didn't shy away from setting the tone in the first period and second periods.
Wednesday's two-fight game was the first time Wilson has had more than one scrap in a regular-season game in his NHL career — though he did have a multi-fight game against Boston in the preseason before the 2015-16 season, according to Hockey Fights. The third fight from the same player in a single game results in an ejection.
It was Wilson's first two fights since the calendar switched to 2020 — and just his fourth of the season — as the Capitals rely on his goal-scoring production. The right-winger has a career-high 42 points on 21 goals and 21 assists in 65 games this season. Before becoming a consistent contributor on the offensive end, the seven-year pro's fight totals hovered around and above double-digits in a season.
The Caps ultimately fell to the Flyers, 5-2.
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