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Dennis Wideman could return soon

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington Capitals defenseman Dennis Wideman skated Friday morning for the first time since suffering a serious leg injury late last month, raising hopes he could return to action in a matter of days, not weeks.

"[It was] a really surprising sign, but I mean, a very good sign. He skated for about 15 minutes and felt pretty good, so maybe my assessment of three weeks was a little premature," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said Friday morning.

Boudreau suggested earlier this week that Wideman's injury, sustained in a knee-to-thigh collision with Carolina Hurricanes forward Tuomo Ruutu, would keep him out of playoff action for about three more weeks.

Wideman was diagnosed with a right leg hematoma and compartment syndrome that required surgery to drain the blood from the injured area. He was hospitalized for more than a week after the injury.

Now Boudreau described the timetable for Wideman's return as "sooner than later."

"Who knows? Depending on what kind of shape he can get into in a hurry and how long this series goes, he might even be in this round," Boudreau said.

Wideman played well for the Capitals since being acquired from Florida at the trade deadline, especially with defenseman Mike Green injured.

Green returned from a concussion in Game 1. If Wideman returns at some point in this series it will give the Capitals more options, especially on the power play.

"There was no damage to the muscle, so that's why he was able to come out here and do what he's doing. That's a really good sign. Shows how tough he is, too, by the way," Boudreau said.

Wideman was not available for comment.

The Capitals and the New York Rangers play Game 2 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series Friday night in Washington. The Caps lead the best-of-seven series 1-0.

Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.