T.J. Oshie Overcomes Injury Adversity to Lead Caps to Big Win Over Penguins

michael banner 2CAPITAL ONE ARENA – On Wednesday night the entire hockey world fixated on Washington D.C. as Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby went head-to-head in the latest chapter of the Capitals vs. Penguins rivalry. This game was epic and the Caps delivered a birthday present I will never forget as T.J. Oshie scored a game-winning goal with 1:14 left to give the Capitals a 2-1 win over their rivals. Speaking of Ovechkin and Crosby, they each had goals of their own but it was Oshie pulling through after two hits that could’ve knocked him out of the game that provided the heroics. 

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Flashback to the second game of the season. A night after the Capitals raised their Stanley Cup championship banner and spanked the Bruins, they had a quick turnaround with a road contest up in Pittsburgh. Although the Caps came up short it was Oshie coming through in the clutch that was remembered as the Caps came away with a point. Oshie scored the first goal of the Capitals season in that game against the Bruins, making a serious case of the team’s drive to go back-to-back after leading such chants at the parade. Against the Pens, he scored two late goals in the third period to tie the game, literally just 19 seconds apart.

Oshie had quite another unforgettable night in more than just the late heroics. In the beginning of the game the Penguins were up to their dirty old tricks. Oshie took a high stick from Pens defenseman Olli Maatta and fell to the ground. As he got up you could see a cut on his face in between his nose and left eye. Oshie walked off the ice into the trainer’s room and needed two stitches before re-entering the game. There was no penalty from the officials from the play.

After Jakub Vrana was whistled for tripping Brian Dumoulin at 11:33, the Penguins struck first. Sidney Crosby ended his three-game pointless drought with a power-play goal 43 seconds later for his seventh of the season. That would be the score after the first period as the Pens outshot the Caps 9-7.

The second period began with Crosby going to the pit of misery (dilly dilly!) for hooking Nicklas Backstrom, who was recognized before the game for 600 career assists. Backstrom achieved the feat last month in a win over Vancouver.

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As Crosby was sitting in timeout, Alex Ovechkin worked his power play magic. If I said he blasted a goal from “The Office” you know where I’m talking about. It was his 12th goal of the season.

The power play tally was his 235th power play goal, which passed Marcel Dionne for sole possession of eighth place on the NHL’s all-time list. It was also the 13th time in the team’s 14 games that they scored a goal in the middle stanza. In total, the Caps have scored 24 goals in the second period which ranks them first in the league. It was the 10th game of their 14 games that the Caps scored on the man advantage. The Caps are 7-1-2 when they score on special teams.

The score would be 1-1 heading into the final period. The Caps were outshot 17-10 in the second period.

Some fireworks ensued in the final 20 minutes. At 3:27, Malkin practically elbowed Oshie to the ground.

Malkin received a match penalty that ejected him from the game. Oshie headed to the trainer’s room for concussion protocal. Almost a year ago, Oshie was hit along the boards by Joe Thornton of the Sharks and was out for a few weeks. This time around, Oshie came back in the game. As for Malkin, the NHL Department of Player Safety decided not to have a hearing or suspend Malkin for the hit. On this night though, karma would strike a team that seems to get away with everything.

On the stats sheet, the Penguins for the most part dominated. They outshot the Caps a whooping 16-5 in the final period but Braden Holtby defended his net. He stopped all 38 shots he faced on even strength and 41 of the 42 total he faced. That was one of the Holtbeast’s best showings of the season and it couldn’t have come in a bigger spotlight for a November regular season game.

With 1:14 seconds left, Oshie delivered me the icing on the birthday cake. Off a great pass from John Carlson, Oshie buried the puck past diving Pens goaltender Casey DeSmith for the lead. It was bonkers. It set the building off and sent the Pens fans for the exits. I’m glad I got to high five and hug my birthday buddy Allie and all our closest friends who celebrated with us. As Craig Laughlin would say on Twitter throughout the playoffs last year, we were lit!

The Capitals 2-1 win improves their record to 7-4-3. They got a much needed day off today before they begin their focus towards the Columbus Blue Jackets tomorrow night. Both of those teams are tied with 17 points for second place in the Metropolitan Division. Depending on whatever happens with tonight’s Islanders game against the Lightning, Friday could be a battle for first place!

Back to back.

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