Lost in the headlines of Alex Ovechkin’s four-point game against the Flyers on Sunday was another career day for Tom Wilson.
Like Ovechkin, Wilson scored four points. The power forward was a part of all four goals the Capitals put up that day.
The 7-4 loss marked Whip’s first career three-assist game and his second career four-point game.
Wilson’s big day started thusly. He tallied the primary assist on Alex Ovechkin’s power-play goal to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead.
Wilson then got a goal of his own five minutes later after driving hard to the net. The goal gave the Caps their only two-goal lead of the game.
After the Flyers tied up the game 2-2, Wilson recorded the secondary assists on a slapshot goal from Ovechkin four minutes into the second period.
Wilson’s fourth point came with less than a minute left in the second period. Wilson sent the puck across the top of the Flyers zone to Ovechkin who one-timed it to Nickolas Backstrom in front of the net. Backstrom backhanded the puck into the net to tie the game 4-4.
After three unanswered goals from the Flyer, the Caps ultimately lost 7-4.
Wilson’s first career four-point game came on December 6, 2017, at home against the Chicago Blackhawks. His first three points came within the first 15 minutes of the game. He recorded an assist on a goal from Backstrom and Ovechkin and netted his own goal assisted by Christian Djoos.
Wilson’s fourth point that night was an empty-net goal leading the Capitals to win 5-2.
So far in his eighth season with the Caps, Wilson has 12 points in 10 games this season. The 2012 first-round pick is tied with Alex Ovechkin for second on the team in both goals (5) and points (12).
Wilson has matured into one of the Capitals’ top offensive players since the team’s Stanley Cup run in 2018. Wilson skated on the first line of that championship team, forming an elite trio with Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Ovechkin won playoff MVP (15g, 12a), Kuznetsov led the playoffs in points (32), and Wilson had 15 points (5g, 10a) in 21 games while also serving as one of the team’s top penalty killers.
Willy was involved in some of the biggest goals during that championship run, utilizing his soft hands to make plays and his big frame to create havoc.
Months later during the 2018 preseason, Wilson was given a 20-game suspension from the NHL (later reduced to 16) after nailing Oskar Sundqvist with an open-ice hit to the head.
The hit branded Wilson across the NHL as a dirty player. After his suspension, he told Andy Strickland that “it’s gotten to the point he’d rather not make a hit in fear of it being considered illegal and it’s 100% in his head throughout a hockey game.”
Honest talk with Tom Wilson today. Says it’s gotten to the point he’d rather not make a hit in fear of it being considered illegal. Says it’s 100% in his head throughout a hockey game. Also said he’ll be sitting out pre-season games against the #stlblues moving forward #allcaps
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) January 3, 2019
Wilson responded to the controversy by having a career year offensively in 2018-19, posting 22 goals in 63 games. It was the first year he had hit the 20-goal plateau. Wilson’s .35 goals per game ranked him third-best on the Capitals and 67th overall in the NHL. He followed that up in 2019-20 with the fourth-most goals on the team (21 in 68 games).
Wilson’s physical game hasn’t suffered as a consequence. Wilson’s penalty minutes have decreased every season since 2017-18 (187 to 93 last year). During that time, he’s remained one of the most prolific and feared hitters in the league (253 hits last season, third-best in NHL). He still sometimes gets goaded into goonery, but it’s rare.
Wilson, who is openly discussed as a possible future captain of the team, is playing the best hockey of his career. After wondering if the 16th overall pick was a bust after his first four seasons in the NHL, Wilson has matured into the power forward everyone dreamed about when he was first selected.
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