Wideman disputes own hat trick

Wideman disputes own hat trick
December 10, 2011, 2:32 am
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Was it, or wasn't it?

Fans who threw their 20 hats onto the Verizon Center ice Friday night want to know.

Did Dennis Wideman really score the first hat trick of his 481-game NHL career in the Capitals' 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Or did teammate Brooks Laich get his stick on that last Capitals' power-play goal, their fourth of the night, with 1:19 remaining in the third period?

"The third one went off Brooksie, so I'm pretty sure that one's going to come back," Wideman said after the Caps won their second game in a row for the first time under coach Dale Hunter. "I never had one before. I still haven't had one."

On paper he does. According to the NHL official scoresheet distributed after the game, Wideman is credited with three goals and one assist, making him the first Capitals defenseman to record a hat trick since Sergei Gonchar did it nearly 12 years ago in a 6-1 win over Montreal on Jan. 4, 2000.

That may all change on Saturday if someone from the NHL scoring department decides to credit Laich with the goal.

Asked if he got his stick on Wideman's one-time blast from the point, Laich smiled uncomfortably and said, "Um, I don't want to talk about that."

Either way, the Capitals' power play awoke from its two-month slumber, going 4-for-6 against the Leafs. It was the first time the Caps scored four power-play goals in a game since Dec. 5, 2009 when they blew out the Philadelphia Flyers 8-2 in Peter Laviolette's coaching debut.

Wideman opened the scoring 12:33 into the game when Mike Knuble found him with a hard chop pass, giving Wideman a good look at an open right side of the net. Wideman connected for his fourth goal of the season.

The Leafs had a tremendous opportunity to tie a few minutes later, but Phil Kessel hit the left post on a wide open net and the Caps went into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead.

Laich said a funny thing happened during that first intermission.

"We were going to take a lead," Laich said, "and I told him, 'Dont stop at one, Dennis.' And he goes, 'No, I dont plan on it.'"

When the Leafs were caught with too many men on the ice at the start of the second period Wideman again took advantage. This time he rifled a shot through a screen provided by Knuble and past goaltender James Reimer.

It marked the first time in 22 games the Capitals scored two power-play goals in the same game. But they werent finished yet.

Kessel finally got the Caps on the board with 12:52 gone in the second period tapping in a Tyler Bozak rebound that Tomas Vokoun let slip behind him.

But the Caps struck again on the man-advantage late in the period. With Joey Crabb in the box for boarding, Backstrom rifled home a pass from Wideman for his 11th goal of the season, giving the Caps their first three-goal power-play game of the year.

The Leafs made things interesting when Cody Franson scored with 14:09 remaining in regulation, but Wideman brought the house and the hats down with his third goal of the game with 79 seconds remaining. It took four trash cans to haul away all the hats.

But what if it was all for naught?

"They'll have to give them all back, I think," Wideman said.

Asked if he might petition the NHL to keep the scoresheet the way it is, Wideman provided a revealing response.

"No," he said. "If you get one, you want it to be honest. You don't want a cheap one."