COLUMBUS, Ohio – None of the Capitals are immune from criticism tonight after an ugly 5-1 loss to the Blue Jackets here Friday night.
But the earliest of the costly mistakes came from rookie winger Tom Wilson, whose retaliatory roughing minor negated a would-be power play and brought the early energy the Capitals had in the contest to a screeching halt.
Wilson, 19, had delivered a thunderous check against Brandon Dubinsky in the first period, prompting Columbus’s Corey Tropp to answer back with a hit against the Capitals’ winger. Tropp was called for charging, but Wilson didn’t see the referee’s arm raise signaling the penalty and sought some retribution of his own.
“There was a couple big hits on the shift, emotions were high. I honestly don’t – I had no intention of going over and taking a penalty,” Wilson said. “I barely bumped into him. The ref felt otherwise. It’s dumb on my part I shouldn’t be going in there at all. I should try and avoid that.
“I had no idea [there was a delayed penalty call on Tropp] because I got the pass right away and we were going up ice,” Wilson said. “I think it might have been the ref behind the play that called it. I wasn’t aware but I didn’t think it was much of a malicious anything on that bump.”
That put the teams four-on-four, but then John Carlson was whistled for tripping, giving the Blue Jackets 96 seconds of a 4-on-3 power play. James Wisniewski scored on a point blast to give Columbus a 1-0 lead on that man advantage.
“He’s a young guy, part of his job is physicality. Had a huge hit down in the other corner. They retaliated, they get a penalty,” Coach Adam Oates said. “He had plenty of time to get it together going down the other end and it’s a dumb mistake. Everybody makes them, he made one there we have to not make them.”
Oates said he needs Wilson to be “smarter” in that situation and the unnecessary penalty was part of the reason why the rookie took only two shifts the rest of the period.
“Just a little reminder that even though you’re young, I don’t treat him like a young guy,” Oates said. “That’s a mistake by a player. He’s a player. That’s a little message that we can’t have that.”
Wilson took only one shift in the special teams filled second period before skating four more in the third period. He saw a total of 8:32 of ice time in the loss and even if he didn’t believe his actions warranted a penalty, Wilson learned a valuable lesson.
“You never want to put your team — I wasn’t aware that we were up. That could have been a power play. That could have been a goal for us,” Wilson said. “If that happens it’s a completely different hockey game. You never know.”