Oshie returns from big hits, scores winner
Go-ahead goal comes with 1:14 left in regulation in win over Pens
WASHINGTON (WPNS) — Because it was the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins, it started as Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby, the two captains and biggest stars of their generation, scoring the first two goals of the game. Then it became a goaltending duel with Washington’s Braden Holtby and Pittsburgh’s Casey DeSmith keeping the score knotted at one.
It was ultimately T.J. Oshie who decided it, scoring the go-ahead goal with 1:14 left in regulation to deliver the Capitals a 2-1 win over the Penguins. He’d been beaten and bruised all night with two separate trips to the locker room because of injuries. But fortunately for the Capitals, he was able to return to the ice in time to deliver the heroics.
The Capitals had Holtby to thank for the score being tied late as he had his best performance in what has been a rocky start to the season for him. He saved a whopping 41 shots.
With the game tied at 1 to start the third period, Capitals center Travis Boyd was called for holding. Then on the power play, Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin was called for an illegal check to the head of Oshie when his elbow collided with Oshie and knocked him to the ground. Malkin was ejected, and Oshie had to be helped off the ice and to the locker room. He returned later in the third period, just in time to deliver the game-winner.
Malkin was assessed a major penalty, so Washington had nearly four minutes of power-play time, and Pittsburgh’s shorthanded chances might have been of higherquality than anything the Capitals’ man-advantage produced.
Both teams entered Wednesday’s game with something to prove, tied with 15 standings points and an identical 6-4-3 record. The Penguins had lost four in a row, while the Capitals, hampered by inconsistency all season, hoped to build on an encouraging performance against the Edmonton Oilers two nights earlier. But even without all of that, the two clubs have three Stanley Cups between them in the past three years as unquestionably the two best teams in that span. The four times they play each other every season are opportunities to see how they measure up compared to the other.
There’s a mutual respect in this rivalr y, especially with the recent success of both teams. The Capitals are trying to repeat as champions, just as the Penguins achieved when they captured the 2017 Stanley Cup after winning it the year before. Pittsburgh would prefer to get back to disposing of Washington in the second round of the playoffs.
“We’re proud of what we were able to accomplish last year, but we also understand that they would like to be the champs again,” Capitals Coach Todd Reirden said before the game. “Right now, this is a game that they’re pointing towards and they feel is important to kind of get things turned around for them.”
The game predictably delivered some early drama. Less than five minutes in, Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta clipped Oshie in the face with a high stick with the blade going under Oshie’s visor and catching him in the eye. He was down on the ice in pain for several seconds before skating off on his own power, and he didn’t play the rest of the first period as he was tended to in the locker room. He returned in the second frame and then got hurt again in the third.
Penguins center Sidney Crosby skates by as members of the Capitals including left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) and center Evgeny Kuznetsov (92) celebrate a goal by right wing T.J. Oshie, second from left, during the third period of Wednesday’s game.