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Monday, April 5, 2010
Wideman penalty in OT proves costly

By Matt Kalman

Maybe the missed would-be high-sticking call on Alexander Semin in the second period convinced Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman that the officials were going to let his team and the Capitals slug it out with sticks in the air Monday night at Washington, D.C.

That’s the only explanation for Wideman ruining an otherwise solid night by high-sticking Tomas Fleischmann early in overtime -- a penalty that led to the Brooks Laich’s winning goal 44 seconds into the extra session in a 3-2 Washington win.

There are just so many chances you can give the league’s best offense and power play before the Capitals are going to burn you. Before his indiscretion, Wideman had enjoyed a solid night in helping the Bruins earn an important point on the road against the President’s Trophy winners.

The Bruins, up to the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, started the night without Mark Stuart and found out they wouldn’t have Dennis Seidenberg after warm-ups. With recent call-ups Adam McQuaid and Andrew Bodnarchuk dressed on the back end, the onus fell on Boston’s four more experience blueliners to slow down Alexander Ovechkin & Co.

Wideman wound up leading the team in ice time at 28:39 and didn’t commit any major gaffes until the end. He even scored his fifth goal of the season. Boston cut back to just four defensemen for most of the third period and managed to keep the Caps off the board in the last stanza to get to overtime.

Bruins fans can gripe that their team didn’t get an extra power play in the second period, when Zdeno Chara was bloodied by a Semin errant stick while killing a Boston penalty. The Bruins would have had a four-minute advantage and a chance to take a stranglehold on the game. Of course, cynics can assume that the Bruins wouldn’t have done much with that man-advantage since the power play has been on hiatus since the March 27 win over Calgary. Against the Caps’ 25th-ranked penalty kill, Boston was 0-for-3 one game after going 0-for-2 against the league’s worst PK in Toronto.

So Boston had its chances to topple the Caps in regulation, but settled for one point. That point just might be the difference in the playoff race when the dust settles on the regular season in less than a week. However, if the extra point the Bruins didn’t gain winds up keeping them out, they’ll have their power play and Wideman’s high stick to blame.