- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fresh off the ice and a victory against his former team, Capitals defenseman Dennis Wideman sat in the locker room at Verizon Center among a swarm of reporters. As he entertained questions about the importance of winning the last game before the All-Star break, playing against the defending Stanley Cup champions and earning two points without the team’s two leading scorers, Wideman wiped his sweat-soaked hair away from his face.

The 28-year-old defenseman was playing in his 500th NHL game and celebrating his first selection to the league’s All-Star Game. His importance on the blue line has been magnified by the long-term absence of high-scoring defenseman Mike Green.

Wideman capped his landmark appearance with the final piece of what turned out to be Washington’s 5-3 victory over the Boston Bruins.

Wideman’s empty-netter with 27 seconds left sealed the win for the Caps. It was one last bit of protection and helped the Capitals regain first place in the Southeast Division.

With the extra attacker on the ice for Boston, the Capitals won the faceoff and Wideman flung the puck into the air. It landed at center ice and slid through the center of the crease for Wideman’s ninth goal of the season.

“I was just trying to get [the puck] up. Obviously, you don’t want to ice the puck, so I was just trying to flip it and get it out of the neutral zone. It just kept carrying and it got up on an end and rolled in the net,” Wideman said. “I was just trying to get it out and sit it on the blue line, but I didn’t do that. I kind of got lucky.”

Exactly half of Wideman’s 66 career goals came as a member of the Bruins. He played four seasons with Boston before he was traded to Florida and then the Capitals last season.

Wideman has one goal and four assists in his last seven games. He also led the Capitals in ice time Tuesday with just under 27 minutes, something that has been a regular occurrence with Green out of the lineup.

“It hit something in the ice, went right into the net,” coach Dale Hunter said with a laugh. “He was trying to high flip it to try to delay it, but he got lucky and it went in.”

Wideman admitted the same, appearing almost ashamed of the goal.

“If I was shooting for it, I wouldn’t have flipped it like that,” he said. Yet, he was happy to get the goal against his former team.

“I think it was probably my first goal against [the Bruins] since I’ve been traded,” Wideman said. “It was a chincy goal, but I’ll take it.”

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