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Oshie skates but will not travel to Brooklyn with the Caps

Oshie skates but will not travel to Brooklyn with the Caps

T.J. Oshie hit the ice Sunday in Arlington, where he skated on his own for about 30 minutes prior to Caps’ practice.

Oshie has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury that he sustained against San Jose.

RELATED: WHAT WAS NISKANEN DOING SO FAR UP ON HIS GAME-WINNING GOAL?

Sunday’s twirl marked Oshie’s first time on the ice since getting his head crunched against the boards by Joe Thornton on Monday.

A team spokesman said Oshie remains day-to-day and will not travel to Brooklyn with the team. The Caps play at the Islanders on Monday and host the Avalanche on Tuesday.

That means the cap-strapped Caps, who have won four straight games and seven of the past eight, do not currently have an extra forward. According to www.capfriendly.com, the team is $368,000 under the $75 million salary cap ceiling.

Injured players do not speak to the media until they’ve practiced fully with the team. 

MORE CAPITALS: 3 REASONS WHY THE CAPS BEAT THE RANGERS

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What the heck was Matt Niskanen doing so far up on his game-winning goal?

What the heck was Matt Niskanen doing so far up on his game-winning goal?

With the score tied at 2 and the seconds ticking away in the third period on Friday, the Capitals needed someone to step up and sneak one past Henrik Lundqvist. With less than four minutes left to go, someone finally delivered.

A long-range shot from Alex Ovechkin was stopped by Lundqvist, but Tom Wilson was able to tip the puck to a teammate sitting on the goal line for the tip-in and the go-ahead goal. That player was…a defenseman?

Yes, the player who was in position to tip the puck past Lundqvist was defenseman Matt Niskanen.

“It’s pretty unusual for me to be there,” Niskanen told reporters after the game.

LISTEN TO THE LATEST CAPITALS EXTRA PODCAST BREAKING DOWN THE CAPS' WIN OVER THE RANGERS

While Niskanen is certainly capable of putting up offensive numbers, he is not a Mike Green type of player who frequently jumps into the offense. So that begs the question, just what the heck was he doing so far up?

The play began with a drive to the net by Wilson.

You can see in the picture that Wilson is behind the net, Backstrom is in the faceoff circle and Alex Ovechkin is near the goal post. Three forwards, all in deep.

The Rangers try to clear the puck, but can’t and it trickles to Christian Djoos who is at the top of the faceoff circle.

Again, you see three forwards low, the defensemen high. Niskanen, who is not on the screen at this point, is on the right side near the blue line.

Rather than kicking the puck back to the offense for the normal cycle we see below the net so frequently from the Caps, Djoos instead glides to his right and passes to Backstrom who is coming up high in the zone as well.

This is what ultimately triggers the scoring play. With Djoos coming to his position and Backstrom covering where Djoos was, Niskanen decides to push forward into the attack.

Backstrom goes the same route Djoos just went moving to the right and Ovechkin continues the cycle as he goes high to the blue line and takes the pass from Backstrom. This is where Ovechkin decides to shoot and Lundqvist, who is dealing with both Wilson and Niskanen in his face, can’t hold onto the shot.

“Backstrom and Ovechkin were coming high so I was running out of space to stand,” Niskanen said. “It's a little rotation play that a lot of teams run now and we've been doing for a couple years now. First time it's worked out for me.”

MORE CAPITALS: 3 REASONS WHY THE CAPS BEAT THE RANGERS

Why don’t we see this more often? Because there is an inherent risk to having your forwards rotate with your defensemen at the blue line over the course of a game. If the Rangers had forced a turnover in that instance and forced a rush up ice, Backstrom and Ovechkin would have found themselves in a position in which they would have to serve as defensemen until Djoos and Niskanen were able to recover.

Notice here, however, the Rangers are not being too aggressive in attacking the puck or pressuring the puck carrier. With uncontested possession, it’s less likely the Caps will give up a turnover that could catch them out of position. Once they do contest the puck, Ovechkin fires the shot on net where Wilson and Niskanen are waiting.

The Caps ran the cycle to perfection and Niskanen was able to sneak into the play and get the goal.

“Obviously, it was a big shift and he was sniffing back door and the puck came to him,” Barry Trotz said. “That was fantastic."

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Rangers

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USA TODAY Sports

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Rangers

The Washington Capitals and New York Rangers found themselves locked in a 2-2 tie in the third period, but it was the Capitals who were able to breakthrough for two goals late for the victory.

Here's how Washington was able to get the win.

An early lead

The Capitals drew first blood early, as in 14 seconds early. That’s how long it took for Jay Beagle to give Washington the lead. On what looked like a broken zone entry for the Caps, Devante Smith-Pelly chipped a loose puck over to Jay Beagle in the high slot and he was able to fire a wrister past Henrik Lundqvist. In a game in which New York looked to be in command at several points, the Rangers ultimately never led. They were always chasing the Caps.

CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FOR CAPS-RANGERS

Braden Holtby (especially in the second period)

The Caps leaned on Holtby in this game, especially in the second period. Washington entered the second with a 1-0 lead and even extended that lead to 2-0, but it was New York who looked to be in control. Yet, Holtby was at the top of his game and he did everything he could to maintain the Caps' lead. He turned aside 12 of the 13 shots he faced in the second including this one-timer from the slot from Mats Zuccarello.

This game could have been very different given New Yorks' push in the middle frame. Holtby made sure it wasn't.

MORE CAPITALS: LISTEN TO THE LATEST CAPITALS FACEOFF PODCAST

Top-line Tom

With the score tied at 2 in the third period, it wasn't Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom who saved the Caps, but Tom Wilson who continues to look right at home playing on the team's top offensive line. With less than four minutes to go, Wilson generated a turnover in the neutral zone and took the puck hard to the net. He didn't score, but the scrambling Rangers' defense could not clear the puck allowing the Caps to maintain possession. A long-range shot from Ovechkin was stopped by Henrik Lundqvist, but Wilson made a great diving tip to Matt Niskanen who tapped in what would be the game-winning goal. Just two minutes later, Wilson would put the exclamation point on the win with a goal of his own. He took a pass in the neutral zone and turned on the jets to get behind the defense and then neatly tucked the puck in the net behind a sprawling Lundqvist.