Before Thursday night T.J. Oshie never had the chance to savor a playoff goal. That’s because his teams were a combined 0-5 when he scored in the post-season.
But not on Thursday night. Oshie scored the game-tying goal with 7:50 remaining in the second period, the go-ahead goal 3:23 into the third and the game-winner 9:33 into overtime to give the Capitals a pulsating and wildly entertaining 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
How it happened: The Penguins buzzed Braden Holtby for the first 5 minutes of the game but the Caps opened the scoring midway through the first period on Andre Burakovsky’s first goal of the postseason. Burakovsky fed Jason Chimera in the slot and followed up Chimera’s rebound, lifting the puck over Penguins rookie goalie Matt Murray. It stayed 1-0 until the Penguins answered with goals from Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin just 57 seconds apart midway through the second period. Lovejoy put a Nick Bonino rebound past Braden Holtby for his first goal of the playoffs and Malkin gave the Pens a 2-1 lead when he roofed a backhander over Holtby and under the crossbar.
Oshie answered with his first of two goals, hustling to a loose puck and beating Murray gloveside for his first goal of the game and second of the series, sending the two teams into the second intermission locked in a 2-2 tie. Oshie gave the Caps the lead 3:23 into the third period when he grabbed an Alex Ovechkin blocked shot and backhanded a shot past Murray for a 3-2 lead. The Penguins came right back to tie when Nick Bonino took a centering pass from Carl Hagelin and snapped a shot that seemed to change direction at least once, if not twice, on Holtby. Burakovsky appeared to get a piece of Bonino’s stick from behind and the shot appeared to glance off Nate Schmidt’s right skate.
Oshie won it when he pushed a wraparound attempt off the outstretched right pad of Murray just over the goal line. A video replay showed the puck just made it over the goal line before Murray pulled it back. Hats littered the ice as Oshie was mobbed by his teammates following his first post-season hat trick.
What it means: All eight teams that won their series openers in Round 1 went on to win their respective series.
Let’s rumble: Caps coach Barry Trotz seemed to want his fourth line of center Jay Beagle and wingers Daniel Winnik and Tom Wilson to play against the Penguins’ forward line of center Evgeni Malkin and wingers Chris Kunitz and Eric Fehr and the matchup turned into a holy war, with Wilson drilling Malkin at every opportunity. The Beagle line dominated several shifts with tenacious forechecks.
Hockey hilarity: Jay Beagle was involved with two of the night’s most humorous moments. Late in the second period Ian Cole’s stick somehow got lodged between Beagle’s chin strap and his visor and Beagle spent half of his shift looking like he’d been shot by an arrow. Early in the third period, Beagle got tripped by Phil Kessel and couldn’t pry Kessel’s stick out of the blade of his skate.
No Selke for Backy: Despite nine months of campaigning by Caps coach Barry Trotz, Nicklas Backstrom was not among the Selke finalists announced by the NHL Thursday night.
Anze Kopitar of the Kings, Patrice Bergeron of the Bruins and Ryan Kesler of the Ducks are the finalists for the award, given annually to the NHL’s top defensive forward.
Asked on Thursday morning for his candidate, Trotz responded, “No. 19, for sure. Absolutely I’m a big fan of that. People are starting to notice how good he is at both ends of the ice. There are some great players in the league -- guys like Kesler and Bergeron and guys like that. But Backy’s on everybody’s radar too and I think he deserves (consideration).”
What’s ahead: With Justin Bieber occupying Verizon Center on Friday the Caps and Penguins will both practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington.