Sports

Tom Wilson plays hero for Capitals in Game 4 win over Leafs

Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) celebrates his goal as Toronto Maple Leafs centre Tyler Bozak (42) skates past during first period NHL hockey round one playoff action in Toronto on Wednesday, April 19, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) celebrates his goal as Toronto Maple Leafs centre Tyler Bozak (42) skates past during first period NHL hockey round one playoff action in Toronto on Wednesday, April 19, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

TORONTO — Tom Wilson's homecoming of sorts has proven to be crucial for the Washington Capitals.

Wilson scored twice and saved a goal from his own net in Washington's 5-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 4 on Wednesday night.

"I think it's that time of year, there's been some fabulous heroes, not always the ones that you think are going to be there," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "Obviously the big names are always there, but I just think he played the right way today. He's a growing young player who is physically very strong and he's grown to be a good penalty killer and his game continues to grow. Real happy for him."

The series is tied 2-2 and Game 5 in Washington is on Friday night.

Wilson now has three goals in four playoff games, including the overtime winner in Game 1. The Toronto native had seven goals in 82 regular season games this season.

Wilson's play has earned the confidence of Trotz, who moved the winger onto Washington's third line alongside Andre Burakovsky and Lars Eller.

Washington was hanging on to a 2-1 lead with 6:31 to play in the first period when Wilson prevented the game-tying goal. A Morgan Rielly shot squeezed through the pads of Braden Holtby, but Wilson dove into the crease to clear the puck from the goal-line.

Wilson gave Washington a two-goal cushion just 12 seconds later, re-directing an Eller shot.

"It's good awareness by him obviously and then that huge play right after," Holtby said. "I probably shouldn't let that puck get through me, he made up for my mistake there, goes down scores a goal."

Washington made it a three-goal advantage 2:23 later with Wilson finishing off a 2-on-1 feed from Burakovsky. Wilson now has five goals in eight career games at Air Canada Centre, raising the notion that he might be a bit of a villain in his hometown..

"I just take them as they come, trying to work hard," said Wilson of the first period. "We got scored on early so we needed to bounce back."

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