WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 09: Dennis Wideman #6 of the Washington Capitals celebrates his power play goal at 12:33 of the first period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Verizon Center on December 9, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Maple Leafs Vs. Capitals: Dennis Wideman's Hat Trick Leads Washington To 4-2 Win Over Toronto

Dennis Wideman had a four point night and the Caps power play had a four goal night in an impressive win over the Maple Leafs, avenging last month's blowout loss in Toronto.

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Maple Leafs Vs. Capitals: Dennis Wideman's Hat Trick Leads Caps To 4-2 Win

The Washington Capitals won their second game in a row on Friday night, beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 at Verizon Center.

The Caps were led by Dennis Wideman, who scored three of Washington's four goals and had the primary assist on the other. All of Wideman's goals came on the power play, marking his first multi-power play goal game of his career. Wideman beat Toronto netminder James Reimer with a quick wrister off a Mike Knuble feed for his first. His second shot was a powerful drive from the point, rifling past Reimer for the 2-0 lead. The final goal came with a littler over a minute to play in the game, and was a another rocket from the point that beat Reimer with the help from a Brooks Laich screen in front.

It was the first hat trick by a Washington defenseman in 11 years, with Sergei Gonchar being the last Caps defender to score three in a game. He added an assist on Nicklas Backstrom's power play goal in the second period, making it a four point night for Wideman and a four goal night for the Caps' power play.

Wideman's final goal gave Washington their second two goal lead of the night. The Maple Leafs had cut the Capitals lead to one goal when Cody Franson launched a quick shot from the blue line towards traffic in front of Tomas Vokoun. The puck went right through the bottleneck in front to find the back of the net  for Toronto's second goal of the evening. Nikolai Kulemin set up in front of the net and provided the screen, as Franson just barely kept the puck in the zone and flipped it towards the crease. The Leafs kept the puck in the Washington zone for much of the third period, and it seemed to be only a matter of time before they put their second on the board.

But Wideman would get it right back, icing the game for the Caps fifth win in their last seven matchups with Toronto. It was a solid response for Washington, who was embarrassed by the Maple Leafs in a 7-1 loss in Toronto last month. They now have three days off before the Atlantic Division leading Philadelphia Flyers visit Verizon Center on Tuesday.

For more news, discussion, and analysis on the Capitals, visit SB Nation's Caps blog, Japers' Rink.


Maple Leafs Vs. Capitals: Power Play Goals Give Caps 3-1 Lead Over Leafs

For the first time this season, the Washington Capitals' power play actually has some power.

Dennis Wideman and Nicklas Backstrom scored power play goals for the Caps in their first three-power play goal performance of the season as they lead the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Wideman's second goal of the game, like his first, came on the power play. Alex Ovechkin fed Wideman on the point and his blast beat James Reimer. Backstrom originally earned credit for the goal, but it was later changed to Wideman. It's the first two-goal game of Wideman's career.

Kessel's 18th goal of the season came at 12:52 after the Caps killed an Alexander Semin penalty, Tyler Bozak simply threw the puck on net and it squeaked behind Tomas Vokoun. Vokoun couldn't locate the puck, but Kessel did as he poked it in.

The Caps struck again on the power play at 18:50 when Wideman elected to pass instead of going for his first career hat trick and found Backstrom for his 11th goal of the season, tying him with Jason Chimera for the team lead.


Maple Leafs Vs. Capitals: Dennis Wideman's Power Play Goal Gives Caps 1-0 Lead After 20 Minutes

It took the Washington Capitals about 12 minutes to get their first shot on goal, but shortly after they did, Dennis Wideman made it count.

Wideman's power play goal has given the Caps 1 -0 lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs after 20 minutes.

Wideman's fourth goal of the season gave Washington power play goals in consecutive games for the first time since November 4-8. Nicklas Backstrom's shot attempt was blocked, but Mike Knuble corralled the loose puck and sent a strong pass to an open Wideman, who put a wrist shot past James Reimer at 12:33. It was Wideman's first goal since November 1.

The Leafs had the first six shots on goal, but the Caps had six of the last eight in the period. Tomas Vokoun made eight saves, but can thank the post for stopping a puck that beat him late in the period. Reimer has five saves for Toronto.


Maple Leafs Vs. Capitals: Tomas Vokoun To Start, Roman Hamrlik Returns Against Leafs

BALLSTON, Va. - All but two members of the Washington Capitals participated in Friday's morning skate as the team prepared for its game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Mike Green (groin) and Matt Hendricks (knee) did not skate and will not play tonight. Roman Hamrlik, however, did skate and head coach Dale Hunter said after practice that Hamrlik will return to the lineup Friday after missing four games.

"Yeah, I'm cleared to go," Hamrlik said. "I feel much better."

Hamrlik said that he hopes that he will play Friday and that the injury wasn't serious enough to keep him out of the playoffs if it occurred in the spring.

"I want to be 100 percent and it feels like it," Hamrlik said. "I'm ready to go today."

With Hamrlik's return imminent, Jeff Schultz took in extra work with assistant coach Jim Johnson and will likely be the defensive scratch. Schultz played only 3:55 in Wednesday's 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators. Schultz did not want to dwell on Wednesday's lack of ice time and said that he's working to regain the confidence that led him to a plus-50 rating two seasons ago.

"It's getting back to where I played a couple years ago, that breakout season," Schultz said. "It starts in practice and doing the things working with Jim [Johnson] afterward, just getting back to that confidence level that I know I can play at."

Meanwhile, Jay Beagle participated for about 25 minutes before stepping off the ice. Beagle said that he is not cleared for contact yet, but skating with the entire team is a positive step.

"It was really good," Beagle said. "It was a lot of fun to be out there with the guys. It's a good step to go out and kind of skate for 20, 25 minutes and feel good."

Beagle hasn't played since October 13, when he suffered a concussion in a fight with the Pittsburgh Penguins' Arron Asham.

Tomas Vokoun left the ice first and will earn his second straight start. With Vokoun in goal, the lineup should look the same as it did Wednesday:

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Alexander Semin

Troy Brouwer - Marcus Johansson - Jeff Halpern

Jason Chimera - Brooks Laich - Joel Ward

Cody Eakin - Mathieu Perreault - Mike Knuble


Maple Leafs Vs. Capitals: Revenge On Capitals' Minds Against Leafs

The Caps will look to exact revenge on the Leafs Friday, who handed them their most lopsided loss of the season in a 7-1 defeat about three weeks ago.

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